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2020.11.22 01:44 End-Public Trip of a Lifetime (Part 1)

When NimCorp called me and asked me to go on this journey, I really had nothing better to do. I’d come across a website that I’d never heard of before, NimCorp LLC, which, like so many probably bootleg space programs, offered people to go off into space for a certain amount of time for a vacation, and see a new swath of the galaxy that the average person had not yet gotten around to seeing. All these little journeys were essentially space cruises, where for a couple thousand bucks you can go off into the Whateveritis Nebula for a week or two and see some pretty lights in order to forget about your boring desk job. A super middle class, family vacation thing to do. I wouldn’t normally be interested in this kind of stuff. It’s pretty much guaranteed that getting locked up in one of these “luxury” cabins for a week will get you exposed to countless childhood diseases, and the faint sheen of mucus will forever be present in the air. No thanks. Let alone the sounds of kids crying at night and hushed, awkward but still clearly audible parent sex from the next room.
So, essentially these space programs all have to be technically controlled by the U.S. government, since NASA is actually the only body that can regulate space travel as of now. What these companies basically do is buy ships from NASA and adhere to all of their safety regulations but just put their unique spin on the journey to sell seats. Pretty lucrative if you ask me.
Again, I would never in my right mind go on one of these things. I’m sure the sights would be beautiful and all, and I’d remember it for a lifetime, but I just don’t think it’s worth the risk of childhood contagion that is essentially guaranteed on one of these things.
But this journey was different. I saw a usual banner ad for NimCorp space exploration program, and really just wanted it to get out of my face at first. But then something caught my eye.
The ad read “Does space sound better to you than earth?” Pretty standard. “Why not leave earth behind?” Again, run of the mill. “What if space could be your new, permanent home?”
Now, this gave me pause. First of all, using the word “permanent” in any advertisement is far too harsh, and ignites feelings of entrapment, debt and responsibility. No one in their right mind is going to put this on an ad, because if a feeling of dreaminess and whimsy is not induced, then only self-endangering freaks are going to buy your product. (I have an associates in advertising)
Self-endangering freaks like me, that is.
I’m what someone might call a N.E.E.T. An acronym that stands for “Not in Employment, Education or Training” This description is technically true. I do have previous education, but I’m definitely not using it at the moment, and I’m not employed by a company or in any kind of training program. Basically, if I just existed every single day in this same room that I am in now, browsing the internet and eating cup ramen and ham and mayonnaise sandwiches, no one would even blink an eye. I don’t really have connections to the outside world. I am essentially an NPC on autopilot who is waiting for a real player to interact with me, so I can deliver my allotted portion of world-building. And to be honest, that hasn’t even happened yet. I’m just sitting here, burning gas and idling in the parking lot that is life.
Never met my parents. I heard that apparently, they were farmers or something, out in the rural areas somewhere. Something wistful and idyllic, similar to what these expensive space programs advertise. But I don’t really have any memory of them. Maybe just one, something about a warm fireplace, and a cold glass of milk, and a set of dirty shoes that were haphazardly thrown on the table. Just a glimpse of a different life, that seems to be more part of an adventurer’s video game than something I’ve actually experienced.
In any case though, most of what I recall is just growing up in the orphanage. Different orphanages actually, five of them, to be exact, over the span of fifteen years. No one there was particularly kind to me. Not necessarily mean either, just distant. I didn’t make any real friends and was basically just thrilled when I could get out of there, find a small place and self-isolate for the foreseeable future. Got a shitty degree online, from Olympus University. Have you heard of it? I certainly hadn’t.
So, back to this trip, right. It actually seemed like something cool to do. As soon as I saw the even slight possibility that I could bounce out of this world and travel on to another one, I was already invested. First, though, I had to make sure that this was actually real.
I clicked on the ad and it brought me to a website absent of awkward family photos and corny messages that advertised “getting away for a week” or other pointless escapades. The advertising for this program was pretty straightforward.
“Do you have minimal ties to this earthly realm and want to experience another? Have you always felt weighed down by gravity? Want a permanent change of scenery? Well, all of space is waiting!”
I looked around to find an “Apply Now” button and only found it down at the very bottom. Before I came across it, I had to read through a pretty detailed description of what this trip would entail. Essentially, if picked, I would be able to leave earth permanently, travel through space for the rest of my foreseeable life and stop at various locations around the galaxy in order to help terraform them and expand them. I’d basically become a farmer, ironically enough. Isn’t that the exact thing my parents allegedly were? To think I’d be almost returning to this idyllic lifestyle that I thought I could never access.
This was a service trip. By that, it meant that we, the passengers, would be doing a service to the human race and human expansion, and essentially bettering humanity, apparently. Because of this, the entire thing was completely free of charge.
This, for me, was the only way I could go anyways, because I generally decided to lead such a low-income lifestyle that not much extra cash was available. $200 for rent of this room, $200 for food, and an extra hundred for miscellaneous expenses each month. That was it. I lived under the radar. Most of the time I got this money from customers here and there who wanted my graphic design skills, mostly advertised on Craigslist or Fiverr. I could get a full-time job if I wanted to, but I can’t foresee how that would go. People are not my strong suit, nor is working under the supervision of anyone. I’m okay with subsistence living, as long as I have distractions.
More or less, I could not be more excited to yeet myself off of this earthly plane.
The screening process was rigorous. More than anything, this program demanded that applicants have no meaningful ties to others in their lives, so much so that no fuss would be made if those of us chosen would never return again. This screening process took the form of hundreds of multiple choice and short-answer questions, in which the application asked
“Do you have any regulars you talk to at grocery stores, banks, post offices or any other place that connections may be formed in a casual manner?” and “Are you part of any online forums or groups in which your presence is valued?” Now, for a N.E.E.T. like me, one may think that online forums are the only place that I would make meaningful relationships. And this is a pretty understandable assumption. But, in truth, I am mostly a voyeur. I’m mostly just a watcher who oversees their surroundings like an owl on a branch. Even digital conversations would have too much gravitas for me.
In truth, I was the perfect candidate for this program.
Now, I want to stop this for a second. I and most people agree that sending people away from earth with no chance to ever come back is pretty inhumane. I don’t think NimCorp actually planned on doing this. In reality, reading over the finer details of the trip, participants had the option to return to earth every five years, if they were so inclined, and from there, the give or take four-year-long mission would commence from whatever point in the galaxy they were, back to earth. This is honestly a good opt-out and I am glad that people have it. But, that being said, I had no intention of taking it.
After entering my personal data, pages and pages of digital questions, and a handful of paragraph-long short-answer questions that I had to answer, my application seemed to be complete. For once, I thought, I didn’t have to put down references from people that I didn’t know, to apply for opportunities that I would never get because of my lack of experience.
I read online that the process was extremely selective. They were looking for a very specific candidate, and it almost seemed that someone’s level of self-isolation was more important than even their mental fitness, the latter which is more handy for a space mission like this, I would think. However, those two attributes don’t exactly go hand in hand most of the time.
From there, I submitted the application and didn’t think about it all too much for a couple of weeks. It would be a nice change. Let’s put it that way. I never really thought of myself as very special, so I wasn’t sure if I would really stick out to them at all. But, perhaps that’s what they were looking for: an ordinary Joe who is so unnoticeable that he could move to anywhere in the galaxy and no one would blink an eye.
I was standing at my small kitchenette, weeks later, that I had crafted for myself, making an iced coffee out of powdered milk and some Maxwell House, when I saw an alert pop up on my computer. A small blue banner appeared that had the NimCorp logo and a message that read “Space Program Application Results”.
I immediately speed-walked over to my computer, leaving the iced coffee on top of the microwave. I’ll get it later. I clicked on the link that this pop-up provided and it took me to a letter, with official letterhead and everything, reading,
Dear Oliver,
We are pleased to announce that you have been selected as one of our pioneers to venture out in our service-oriented space program. In this trip, you will be terraforming new worlds, and exploring areas possibly never seen before by humankind. And, if you wish, will be able to work with us indefinitely.
Please notify our system of your decision to accept or decline this offer within the next two weeks. If you do not respond, it will be assumed that you are not interested.
Best of luck in making a decision!
I found the form to submit my response and accepted immediately. I would finally be able to get out of this shitty reality.
About a week before I was scheduled to take off is when the sightings started. Almost like trans-perceptive visions that cut back through my many years of tedium to a time that I could scarcely remember, my childhood. Or, at least, I assumed it was my childhood. There was no definitive way to tell. I suppose you could call them flashbacks. However, these were flashbacks that I could interact with. It’s as if I could use the knowledge that I have now and talk to those in these visions, in my much younger body.
I gotta say, it was strange, but maybe it’s the fact that I have lived the past five years in relative isolation that is bringing up these vivid, almost sensory-deprivation-esque visions. Who’s to say. In any case, it was probably a trick of the mind.
The first one I experienced was one of a relatively normal scene. I’m sitting on a couch, or something, in front of a blazing open fire. And I’m wringing my hands together as if to get warm from the cold. In fact, I could actually feel the warmth hitting me as I dreamt it. Beside me is a plump but curvy middle-aged woman, with blonde hair and a contagious smile. Could this be my mother? Who’s to say.
She asks me if I liked going into town with her. I don’t respond. Instead I ask, “Who are you?” And then the dream ends.
I go back to my original state of mind. Same dingy room, same glowing computer screen, and the same slight fluorescent glow of my makeshift kitchenette, which shines on at every hour of the day.
I did, however, have one person I did want to say goodbye to. Mrs. Rienzi. She was an old Italian lady who lived in the neighboring apartment, who kindly brought everyone in the apartment block their mail every day. Since the mailmen usually just dropped off all of our packages in bulk, we were tasked with going down into the parking lot and sorting it out. But, instead, this nice old lady did it for us, most likely out of senior-induced boredom.
I’d barely ever spoken a word to her. But, she did not mind that. We mostly just communicated in smiles and raised eyebrows, which, to be honest, was my preferred form of communication. Even though our relationship had formed out of a utility, I could not deny that I had a fondness for her and would miss her once I went out on my journey. What a sweet old woman she was.
I ventured outside of my apartment, cringed at the sunlight finally hitting me, and knocked on her door. It took a few minutes before anyone opened it. But the door eventually did open and this petit, round, wrinkling woman with deep gray hair answered. Mrs. Rienzi.
I barely knew how to speak. I didn’t exactly know what to say. It had been a while.
“I wanted to say…” I trail off. I can’t even really form a sentence.
She just looks at me and laughs.
“Oliviero, are you okay?”
“Yes,” I say without hesitation.
“Everything is good?”
“Um, yeah.” I say again.
“I just wanted to say that I won’t be seeing you for a while,” I tell her.
“Oh, well, that’s ok, caro. I’ll always be here.”
“Yes, I know that. Trust me, it won’t be that long.”
She smiles at me again but does not look convinced.
“Are you sure everything is good?”
“Of course,” I convince her.
We finish our exchange and she slowly closes the door.
I suddenly have the urge to fight back tears, and I don’t know why.
The day of lift-off, I am ordered to bring a small duffel of my things and any keepsakes that I will want to remind me of earth while on this journey. I don’t bring any at all. We are ordered to leave all phones and other communication devices at home, because obviously they will be useless in space. There are special long-range satellites on the ship that will let us communicate via text and video message once we lift off, and we will each, apparently, be allotted one of these. Funnily enough, I don’t foresee using it much. If anything, I’ll use it just to browse the internet, which is, luckily, also available on this flight.
I arrive with no space suit. I am in a worn-out textured long-sleeve shirt and a pair of embarrassingly cheap khakis. It doesn’t really matter. We were told that we would be taught all we needed to know about space travel while on the flight, so there is no need to worry.
There’s only five of us. A handful of individuals who you could tell had not been in the sun much over the past couple years. A burly Indian man, a small brunette white girl who always looks down, a pasty and awkward chubby redheaded guy who always looks sideways, me, and Juliana, a woman who is so beautiful that I can’t really place it. She, from what I could tell, looked completely socially adept, and had no reason to be here, leaving her friends and family behind. I couldn’t crack it, at first.
We take off with no large hesitation. I’d actually flown once before. I think it was for a school trip or something. The janky thing is, we didn’t even get to see any cool nebulas or anything. It was just a free school trip about what it is like to take off into space, just so we knew what to expect in the future. It was cool, I guess.
There was the same, distinct, rumbling feeling, as the engines churned beneath me, and then this sudden sense of a loss of presence, as if frozen in time while soaring through the air, about to hit the ground. But I never do.
All five of us are sitting in these heavily strapped in seats that look almost like roller coaster seats. They are a bit ridiculous looking, but I am not about to risk second-guessing them while hurtling into space. I almost think I can see Juliana smiling at me, but I don’t know if I really did or not.
The journey continues, and once we get into a stable cruising capacity, we are instructed by our AI mentor to take the harnesses off. We easily click out of them. We are told that apparently it will be a few months before we reach the first terraforming station, which we will be at for about two years before we move onto the next one. Seems good to me. I think I can chill for two months just browsing the web in space. That sounds pretty good.
People on the ship are already making awkward, strange attempts to communicate, which are semi-working. We seem to be constructing a plan to have some sort of community dinner in an hour. That sounds good to me. I suppose if I am going to be living with these people for at least five years, I will have to make acquaintance with them eventually. Might as well start. I don’t have to even talk to do this. I can just be the silent friend.
We are only really given powder packets to eat for most of this initial journey. Lots of dehydrated meats, veggies, snacks, trail mix packets and even ice creams. I’ve lived on worse. I think I’ll deal.
I’m shown to my personal sleeping pod/private room by the AI helper system present throughout the ship. The hydraulics in the doors slide open, and a clean and neat dorm room with a small twin bed, a private bathroom and a little working desk with one of those computers specially equipped for inter-planetary messaging is present. It looks good enough. With all the self-isolating I like to get up to, at least the place I’ll be doing it in won’t be rickety as hell. It is small though. This is probably good, though, because it means it will force me to interact with people more.
I lay my small bag on the bed and plop down next to it. I tell the AI, “close doors” and she closes the door. This whole dinner thing is in an hour, so I think I’ll just chill until then.
Maybe I could message someone on earth? I think to myself. But then I realize I don’t have anyone to message on earth. I wonder if good old Mrs. Rienzi even knows how to use a computer. If she does, there’s no way I’ll be able to get a hold of her email address.
This bed is pretty comfy, though. Maybe a few minutes’ nap won’t hurt.
Minutes after feeling sleepy, I am suddenly back in front of that fire, with the blonde woman, smiling at me. It’s as if I’ve simply picked up where I left off.
“‘Who are you?’” she says, “what do you mean, ‘who are you?’ I’m your mommy!”
“My what?”
“Oh silly, you must be tired from walking around so much!”
I don’t respond. She gets up off of her crate and strolls toward me. She suddenly grabs me by the hips and picks up my little body, so light in this delusion. I’m all of a sudden slung over her shoulder and I’m being carried into another room. I don’t mind the sensation of her entire shoulder bouncing every time she takes a step. We are then in a very old kitchen, with a fridge that is still separate from the wall. I can almost hear the thing buzzing.
“Oh Ollie,” she says, “you’re always one to forget stuff, aren’t you?”
I wake up suddenly, my breath scraping to get back into my throat. I feel sweaty and jittery, even though the AC in this place is cranked up to the max. Why do we even need AC in space anyway? Isn’t it supposed to be cold?
I regain my bearings and sit up. It happened again. I have to get out of this little cubby.
An hour later I emerge, forcing myself to go to the dinner thing to socialize with these other anti-social types.
The dinner, rehydrated, actually looks half decent. There are full pork steaks and a salad of greens that only appear a little bit soggy. Everyone is gathered around this table that is bolted to the floor, and all staring into their laps. I can imagine why. What else would you expect putting a room full of NEET’s together. I take my place at the table and begin to stare into my own lap as well. The only person still looking up is Juliana, who has this fake social smile that you know she is putting on just to be nice. She’s also the only one who has decided to not help herself to the food. She’s munching on some weird protein bar instead.
“So, what is everyone’s names?” she asks hollowly.
“Ollie” I say, without even knowing where that came from.
“Rad, I’m Juliana. You from around Cape Canaveral?”
“No,” I say, “Atlanta.”
“Nice. I’m from Oregon actually. Had to take a plane to the landing site.”
“Sounds nice.”
“Sometimes. Lots of wood smoke there.”
For a second the image of the raging fire comes back to me again.
“So, you sure you’re up for this?” I say, completely amazed with myself.
“Yeah. Why wouldn’t I be?” she responds.
“I don’t know. You don’t seem like you...never mind”
“Like I’d want to even escape from society?”
“Yeah, sure.”
“You’d be surprised.”
The petite white girl with the brown hair suddenly speaks. Her voice is wispy and almost sounds hollow, like wind echoing through a hallway.
“Candace. That’s me.”
“Hi Candace.” says Juliana.
“Hi Candace,” I say back, completely smitten and unable to tell why I am even doing this.
“Does anyone else really love the idea of terraforming?” says Candace.
“Not particularly,” says the pudgy Indian guy.
“It’s like my life’s passion,” says Candace, “I’ve tested it in smaller enclosed biomes millions of times, but I’d do anything just to experience the real thing. This is amazing.”
“That’s cool,” says Juliana.
“I researched that if you plant trees in similar ratios to species available in the wild, it’s easier to sustain life because that ratio is proven to work. It’s fascinating”
It was cool to see someone so passionate about something.
“I’m here to be fat and have no one judge me.” says the Indian guy, “Rav, by the way.”
“Hi Rav,” says Juliana, almost like she is a teacher learning everyone’s names and repeating them back to her in order to remember them better.
The redhead still hasn’t spoken. Everyone kind of turns to him expecting him to say something, but he doesn’t. He just breaks a smile for a millisecond.
When the dinner is over. I return to my room, feeling heavy, full and almost a little nauseous. Sleep can’t come soon enough.
It’s only at what I think is around three am that I am struck awake.
“Hey,” I hear a voice, “It’s me Juliana. Want to hang out?”
Hang out? I’d never heard of such a thing. Much less with a girl.
“What do you mean? It’s like 3 in the morning.”
“Yeah, so what, everyone’s asleep now.”
“Yeah that’s the point.”
Nonetheless I was already getting ready, rising out of bed and putting on real pajama pants instead of just my briefs. I stare briefly into the small personal mirror given to us on the wall and check to make sure my hair isn’t completely wild. I look okay, actually, just a little rough around the edges.
“Come on, Ollie.”
“Okay, ready,” I say as I press the button to open my door.
“I snuck in some liquor.”
“Baller,” I say, trying to keep up with the slang of the day, to impress her or something.
“Have you ever drank before?”
“No.” I say.
“Well, no pressure, but you might want to try it now that we will be stuck in a glorified metal box for two months together.”
“I brought some of these protein bars as well. They’re all I eat. I’m like addicted to them. You want one?”
“No thanks”
“So, what’s Atlanta like anyway?”
“It’s hot. I don’t go out much, actually.”
“That’s okay. I don’t mind. So, what are you doing here anyway? Why go on this journey?”
“I don’t know,” I lie, “something new?”
“So, this is easier than just...taking up table tennis or something?”
“Yeah. I guess.”
We sit in a little nook lined with bean bag chairs meant for “hanging out”, something that, ironically, most of us would not be planning to do much of. She unscrews the cap of what looks to be Jack Daniels and pours two portions of it into some paper cups.
“So,” I ask, “Why are you here?”
“Well, I wasn’t in the best place back at home. A couple people didn’t want me alive. You know, the usual.”
“This was easier.”
“Well, are you ever going to go back?”
“Hopefully not. I don’t think so at least.”
“Well, maybe you should,” I say, not really sure why, “I mean, you are good looking, you have actual social skills. Why would you give that all up?”
“Wish I didn’t have to,” she said.
We talked about various things back on earth for a while and just shot the shit, so to speak. I didn’t dare take more than a sip of the liquor. It certainly burned. I almost immediately felt my face relax after that one sip, which surprised me.
“So, do you actually want to do terraforming?” I ask.
“It doesn’t sound half bad. Planting trees all day.”
“Yeah, I could do that.”
I get up from the beanbag chair, realizing that I am suddenly getting so tired that I am about to fall over.
“Listen, I have to go,” I say, “I’m about to collapse.”
“No worries,” she replies.
I reach out my hand to help her to her feet, and for some reason she takes it. I don’t think I’ve even touched the hand of a girl before, besides Mrs. Rienzi. She saunters off to bed in the opposite direction, almost gliding across the cold, metal floors in her too-long pajama pants and socks.
I collapse in my room and the door swings closed. I barely manage to get the covers up from under me and actually wrapped over my body, before I am out cold. I actually managed to down that entire thing of whiskey, even though it was just a shot, and it is definitely part of why I am already unconscious. For a moment I feel like I am floating, and like my mind is expanding into a field of darkness and stars. It’s like what they say about the universe expanding: it’s forever happening but we are just not aware of it. For a moment, I almost feel myself growing.
All of a sudden, I am back at the fireplace, with the blonde lady cupping her hand over my shoulder and patting my head. I curl up next to her instinctually, not exactly sure what I am doing. She laughs. “Oh Ollie, you must be tired after going into town and raking all of those leaves. Best thing to do after a hard day’s work is to just rest for a while.”
For a moment I just want to rest in the comfort of her arms, and not let go, not move, not question. But I have to question this. This is the third time I have had this exact dream, and it doesn’t seem to be even repeating, it just continues on from where it left off, like some weird TV show.
“Where are we?”
“Oh, come on, silly, you’re at home.”
“Where is that? What town, state, country?”
“Oh, well, if you must know, silly, you’re in Pleasantville, Oregon, in the United States of America. Are you happy now?”
“Yes, actually.”
I shock myself awake. Pleasantville Oregon. What if it’s a real place? What if this weird dream is telling me something?
Without even thinking I immediately scramble out of bed and start up my computer. I type Pleasantville, Oregon into the search bar, and then I see it. It’s a real place. A little town in central Oregon near Bend. I begin to get the unmistakable feeling of shock and horror in my stomach, that feeling of morbid curiosity where you feel you must go on and investigate further but you are also petrified of what you’ll find. The feeling you get when opening college acceptance letters, and the feeling when your father comes back from war for the first time (or so I’m told). Hesitating but determined, I type my last name into the search bar. According to everyone I talked to, I kept my original last name: Lewis. It’s a pretty common last name. I have tried to search for any record of who my parents might be, and where they lived, but I couldn’t find any, and I couldn’t remember anything from when I was apparently with them. I always knew someone knew more about my parents. Someone had to have met them, but I don’t even remember the names of the staff at the first orphanage I was placed at, or even the name of the place itself.
I type in Lewis, Pleasantville, Oregon.
It’s also a common first name, so I am skeptical about how much I will actually find.
The first few results in the search window are about some guy named Lewis McGregor, who grew the county’s biggest pumpkin or something. That’s definitely not what I am looking for. I scroll down further and then happen upon something that could be a clue. There is LinkedIn Profile of a woman named Andrea Lewis. It says she is a librarian. I click on the link and it brings me to a photo I cannot look away from. It’s her. It’s the woman from my dream. She looks like she’s twenty some odd years older than how I saw her. But that is her. Her hair has turned gray, her face carries lines now, but her smile remains the same. Sad and deep.
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2020.11.08 19:25 Aiass Economics

This is a bit long... Should i split it into parts? Neah... I'm too lazy....
Physically, the Saproids are not an impressive race. Skinny little guys. Most races refer to them as "the little grey people". But they are really smart. Proportionally to their bodies, their craniums (and their brains) are the largest among the sentient races. And their are also cunning. And greedy. And ruthless.
You could be at war with them, and not even know it! Because they don't wage wars with ships, and guns, and troops. Oh, no! They wage economics wars. Because they are the trade masters. They are present on any stock market around the universe. They have their greedy little paws in every bank, in every vault. Why? Because nobody can multiply currency like the smart little bastards can.
As a result of their intimate knowledge regarding the economics of the universe, they can crash any economy, of anyone who they deem as a threat to them and to their lifestyle.
When humans finally discovered FTL, they were welcomed to the universe. They met all the other sentient races. Trade deals were made. Technologies were exchanged. Shipping lanes were being established.
Everyone was admiring this race of industrious, peace-loving, hard-working people. Everyone liked them, and the humans seemed to like everyone too. Everyone... except the Saproids.
For some reason, undisclosed by their diplomacy, the humans were rather cold and cautious towards "the little grey men". It's not that they refused contact or trade deals with them, or refused to grant them visiting visas to Earth. It's just that, unlike with the other races, the humans didn't seem to trust them. Like at all! Every Saproid that visited Earth, was accompanied by guards at all time. No access was given to more important human technologies, or real access to the human stock markets. Nobody really knew the reason for this apprehension from the humans part. But soon, all over the universe, when someone was being mad or frustrated at the Saproids, began refering to them as "anal probers" or "cow snatchers". These were terms that started from unofficial human sources.
Of course, this behavior didn't go unnoticed by the Saproids. Nor would it be left unpunished. In great secret, the probers - pardon me - the Saproids, assembled their war council. Their greatest minds in the field of economics met to discuss a strategy to bring these upstarts at the Saproids mercy. Like i said before, the Saproids didn't believe in standard warfare. That was for animals, for mindless brutes, as far as they were concerned. No... Their field of battle was the economy, and their weapon was the currency.
But, their access to human economy was basicly inexistent. So, their usual methods wouldn't be efficient against the humans. In order to find a winning strategy, more data was needed. So, a couple of Saproid generals were sent to Earth, to gather more information. They pretended to be just tourists, willing to visit an exotic planet.
The Human Bureau for Xeno Affairs accepted their tourist visa requests. It recommended them a few popular tourist resorts. Because the Saproids couldn't endure colder climates, the destinations were countries in the warmer climates of Earth. Like Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Haiti, Barbados... India was off limits for some reason - apparently for the safety of the cow snatchers - pardon me - the Saproids. Accomodations were made for them, tickets were bought, guides were booked and, of course, guards had been assigned, for their protection, according to the humans.
After a few days of quarantine, some vaccines, and other such formalities, the generals found themselves on Earth, among the humans, and began their observation, and data gathering. The natural beauties of the land left them unmoving. The exotic fauna mostly scared them. The exotic foods, fruits, vegetables - were of no interest (some of it were borderline poisonous!). Sport activities, (such as diving, climbing, hiking, and so on), were just as irrelevant to them. No... They looked for weaknesses in the economy. They watched how money changed hands. They analized what did the humans spent their currency on. They watched, they asked questions, they gathered data. Spreadsheets were made, Graphs created, Power Point presentations...the works! A month later, the generals returned to their home planet, and the War Council gathered once more.
The first to speak was senior general Skump, from the prestigious "Skump, Skump & Skump" trading company. The general stepped onto the podium with confidence. He looked very imposing with two assistants following him, displaying his very long achievements scroll. The general also looked quite refreshed by his time behind the enemy lines, and one could even see a faint tan on his grey skin.
- "Gentlemen", he began his speech, "on my time on the enemy planet i learned a lot of things about the humans. I studied them carefully. And i think i have found an ingenious method to strip them of their currency. To bleed them dry. Not only to make them poor, but to make them direct their money only into our accounts, and to no other race!"
Every member of the council was on their edge of the seat! Their greedy eyes shone with excitement! Little grabby paws were being rubbed together. Some began to drool uncontrollably. Some of them were even hiding erections behind clipboards placed onto their laps! General Skump smiled at their excitement and began to explain his strategy:
- "After i visited several popular vacation destinations among humans, i observed the following:

  1. The humans work almost all year, gathering currency, like any other normal sapient. BUT instead of using the gathered currency to invest and multiply it, they spend a huge portion of the gathered money in only a single month of "vacation". It is a crazy period in their life, that happens every year, when they just...spend! They prefer to spend it on travelling to new places, as different as possible from their standard place of living. They spend on trying new things, new foods, new experiences, new mating partners...
  2. When the humans reach a certain age, they retire from activity. They stop working and they don't make money anymore. BUT, their government pays them money each month! A fair procent of these old humans, when reaching this stage, prefer to move in wamer climates, where they spend their days taking money from their government and spending them. Usually, spending the money as explained on point 1 of my presentation.
  3. The main source of income for those popular vacation sites i visited was the money spent as shown above. The entire economy in those places depends on the money they extract from the tourists. "
- "Gentlemen", continued the general, "i have seen tourism in the universe, but i have never seen an economy so depended on it, nor have i met a race so ready to spend money on such frivolous things."
- "So, after analyzing all these things, i propose the following course of action:
  1. We build tourist resorts! Terrans will come here because they love new places and experiences! If you build it, they will come! They will come with their money, and leave without them! We will make them pay for these resorts! Not only they will leave their money here, but we will also bankrupt Earth's tourist destinations. After all, they can't offer so much "new" as an alien planet!
  2. I am aware that the humans don't trust us, and don't like us. They call us "anal probers", and "cow snatchers". They won't visit Saproid resorts. So, we build them on other worlds. There are plenty of races that will welcome us investing on their planets. We just make sure that no staff is Saproid, that the humans don't know it is our resorts, and they will happily spend their income in those places.
  3. We establish charter flights between Earth and our newly built resorts. The terrans will PAY us to come here and give us their money! Also, this would mean less tourists and less income for the transport companies on Earth. Again - a serious blow to their local economy!
  4. and at last - we will attract the elderly humans. We sell them houses and land, in warm climates. Like all humans, they crave new experiences. So, they will move to these places. Not temporary, but they will stay there until they expire. All the time sucking money from Earth, and spending it on the planets we attract them to! Again - i am aware they will not come to our planet. Instead, we must attract them on planets that are under our unofficial control. So we can benefit from the steady credit flow that will be coming from Earth towards this elderly."
- "Thank you for your attention gentlemen. I am looking forward to your opinions, and to the plans that my fellow generals devised."
The other generals that visited Earth also presented their plans and observations. But, applying all the plans at once was avoided for three reasons: first, too many plans at once might alert the humans that they are under attack. Second - each of these plans required money, and there were only so many resources the Saproids were willing to risk. And third - they wanted not to push this story teller right here too much right now; to leave some room for a potential follow up.
The council members voted and, with majority of votes, chose general Skump's plan as the starting offensive against the humans. They started going over details, calculated return of investment rates, choosing suitable locations, squabbling over who gets to invest where and on what. But, they were professionals. Slowly, the thing were set into motions and the silent war began, without the humans even realizing they were under attack.
In less than a year, ten huge resorts, with hundreds of hotels, on ten different planets were ready to receive their (mostly human) guests. Transport lines were established between these resorts, Earth, and even Earth's colonies. Clips appeared on the human internet, promoting these resorts. Also, as the same time, amazing offers appeared , dedicated to the elderly humans, for houses and lands on warm, beautiful, exotic planets. For the humans that chose to move to these planets, they even offered free transport!
The plan was in motion, and it was flawlessly executed. Results soon became visible. Humans, after being confined on their own worlds for their entire existence, flocked to the new resorts with great enthusiasm! Old people were happy to get away from the crowded, polluted Earth, and settle on warm, new planets. The number of tourists and elderly surpassed even the most optimistic predictions of the Saproids. Money was starting to flow steadily from the direction of Earth, into the pockets of the anal probers. The council calculated that at this rate, in 10 years, humans would spend enough money outside their system, that they would enter a recession.
Mike Lawry was one of the guides that had been hired to babysit that delegation of cow snatchers. He had never before met real life aliens, but he was rather disappointed. He tried his best to entertain them. But the boring, cheap, non-tipping, grey little bastards were not interested in anything fun. They just watched, observed, took notes... At some point, Mike thought they were into voyeurism, but neah... They just didn't know how to have fun.
So, when he was assigned to another delegation, from another species, he had very low expectations. He almost refused the job. But... his professional pride won. He vowed to himself that this delegation was gonna have fun like never before!
So, he did everything with them: took them to shows (concerts, magic shows, cabaret, etc); took them on trips, like safari, hiking; took them onto the sea, for swimming, snorkeling, diving; took them skydiving; took them to fancy restaurant to enjoy a wide variety of cuisines - the works!
At first, the new aliens were just as boring as the Saproids. Like they were scared to do any of the activities.
- "Why do you humans do these things? This vacation?" asked the leader of the delagation. "Seems like a waste of resources".
So Mike explained to them that humans need to take time off their usual work, in order to recharge. A human, without relaxation from time to time, becomes much less productive. And, he told them he was willing to bet that the entire delegation would feel much more efficient after a week under his ...supervision.
The aliens agree to follow his lead, and, after only a few hours, they relaxed, and started having the time of their lives. At the end of one full week, the aliens were energized, happy, relaxed, and felt ready to return to their mundane tasks with more vigor! Well...at least until their next vacation!
And so went things with the next delegation. And the next... And the next...
Word spread, and soon, there was a growing stream of alien tourists on Earth.
At some point, resorts dedicated to human tourists opened on other planets. Most humans that could afford a vacation, went to space! That took some pressure off the Earth's overcrowded resorts, and made room for the ever growing mass of alien tourists.
Josh Brenner was amongst the first people to visit the tourist resorts built for humans, on alien worlds. He enjoyed his vacation immensely! He liked it so much, that he visited three of the mega resorts in less than a year! It was like visiting places from the movies he watched as a little kid. Like entering the universe of Star Wars. So many other races, such wonderful and exotic sceneries, so many strange foods!
However, he did notice a few unexpected things... Apparently, most alien races didn't usually take vacations like the humans did. All the destinations he visited were obviously new , and designed for humans. And even if they were designed for humans, you could easily see the lack of experience in tourism the designers of these places had. Sure - there were hotels, and each hotel had restaurants. But there were was a serious lack of other tourists attractions. Like organized activities, diving in those purple seas, safari excursions to observe the strange fauna, bird watching, sky diving. Nothing like that. Not even souvenir shops. Nothing like that. So, Josh Brenner did what any bussinessman does when he smells an opportunity - he invested! He started rather small - bought a building near one of those resorts. Transformed it into a hotel, but, unlike the resort, he made it suitable for as many species as he could. After that, he convinced his friends and family to invest too. They built a restaurant, opened a souvenir shop, opened an agency that organized all sorts of activities, in order for the visitors to enjoy all the experiences that the alien planet had to offer. And, most important - they promoted this type of tourism to all the other known sentient races! Even if the other sentient races were not used to this type of spending time, it was impossible not to enjoy yourself if humans were organizing your vacation. Soon, it was known throughout the universe that if you wanted to have fun, you turn to the humans!
Josh Brenner and his friends were just the first humans to do this. But they were not alone. Soon, the mega resorts built for the humans were old news. Human built resorts were attracting more tourists, from all over the universe. A brand new market was opened by the Saproids, but, because of their experience in tourism, the humans were the experts on this new market!
Walt Kowalsky was sitting on his porch, sipping his beer, enjoying the warm evening, and view of the spectacular first sunset of the day. The planet Calednia had two suns, that rotated around each other. The sunsets were something else. Like watching two mythological creatures fighting over the rule of the heavens. It wasn't really a sunset. As one sun disappeared under the horizon, the second sun was coming up. This first sunset actually marked the middle of the day.
"Huh... i'm cheating death." snorted Walt to himself. "I'm doubling the number of sunsets i'm going to see before i die". Bitter sweet humour, but that's the humour of an old man.
He had moved to Calednia six months ago, as soon as offers for new homes, on aliens planets began to appear on the internet.
"One last adventure", he had thought to himself when he bought the place. Best decision he ever made! The weather was always perfect, the house was cheap but very spacious and comfortable. The local race was friendly. They looked like ewoks, but less hairy.
"Man, i love this view", he sighed, as the second sun won the battle and climbed up the pink sky.
Just then his communicator beeped.
- "Yeah?" answered Walt, and took another sip of his beer.
- "Mr Kowalsky?" asked a high pitched voice. Sounding suspiciously like one of them anal probers.
- "This is he."
- "My name is Rajesh, from Xerop Utilities. I am calling to ask you when can we schedule a replacement of the utilities in your home?"
- "Huh?" a confused Walt asked
- "Oh, right... I forgot you are new to our planet. You see sir, on Calednia, our company, Xerop Utilities, replaces your water pump, air filter, air conditioner, washing machine and refrigerator every year. We call this preventive maintenance. In this way we make sure your equipment does not break... too often."
- "Woau... You do this for free every year?"
- "What? No sir. You will be billed, of course."
- "Like hell i will! Nothing wrong with my stuff. Nothing broke yet. When something breaks, i'll fix it myself. If i can't, only THEN i'll buy a new one."
- "Mmm... You can't do that..."
Rajesh seemed at loss for words.
- "Listen here kid. Are these equipments my property?"
- "Well... yes sir, of course..."
- "Then, if you want to tell me what i can do and what i can't do with my property, you're gonna have to come here and tell it to me personally, and to my rifle!"
No answer came from the other side of the line. Just a gulp.
- "That's what i thought. Now f**k off, and don't call this number again!"
About a week later, his water pump broke. Walt grabbed his tool box, and opened it. It was only one condenser that burnt itself, but that started the whole contraption. It was rather standard, but cheaply made, flimsy. He replaced it in 2 minutes. But for the pump to break just as that company was trying to sell him a new one, seemed like too big of a coincidence. So he checked all the stuff around his house. Fridge, air filter, washing machine... everything. All of them were decently built, but had some cheap condensers, or cheap fuses, of cables too thin, like they were all meant to only last a few months.
He went online and ordered himself a box of honest, earth built condensers, fuses, and what-not. Just to have some spares. Xenos might replace the entire machine when it stopped working, but to him, that was wastefull.
About a month later, he was at his neighbor's house, at a party. They were a nice clan of ewoks. Happy, cute, and man they were funny after a few beers! Everyone was telling stories, jokes. They were all laughing; Walt was telling them about how he scared Rajesh silly over the phone, to the amusement of the whole party.
- "Wait, wait, wait..." said Blink, the son of his neighbor. "You mean to tell us you fix all these stuff by yourself?"
- "Yeah dude. It's not even that complicated. They are simple machines. Really easy to fix. And if you mess up, so what? They were gonna sell you a new one anyway".
- "Well... i wouldn't mind not buying new stuff every year" said Blink's dad. "It's sucking me dry. If i wouldn't have to replace them, maybe we could afford one of those vacations i keep hearing about. Walt, think you could show Blink here how to fix them?"
- "Sure thing buddy! If he wants too..."
- "I don't know..." said Blink. "My friends will probably laugh at me, saying i'm into old man stuff"
Walt thought for a second then asked:
- "You kids here have a social network right? And the kid with the most interesting posts, the most likes and shares is the most popular right?"
- "Well... yeah"
- "Kid, i'll teach you how to fix them things, and you can post tutorials online for each type of fix. You're going to save your people so much money that your channel is going to be the most popular on this planet! You're going to get so much tail, you're not going to have energy left to fix things!" laughed Walt
- "...Tail? What do you mean?"
- "Nevermind that... It's the beer talking... So? You in?"
- "Yeah.. Ok. Not sure if you're right about the popular part, but i would really like for us to save enough money to go on a vacation."
- "Great! Then it's settled! Man, i'm going to enjoy sticking it to that Xerop Utilities Company. You know, i have a suspicion that company is run by those anal probers assholes... You know that my grand daddy was abducted by those assholes?" And so, the story telling part of the party continued.
In the following months, Radio Shack received thousands of orders from planet Calednia. And the orders kept growing in number and in number of articles. The sales for new water pumps, air filters, boilers, washing machines, refrigerators, and other house hold equipment plummeted. And Blink's channel became the most popular channel on the planet.
The situation on Calednia was not singular. One every planet where old humans moved, at one point or another, similar events developed. The humans refused to replace equipment regularly. If the machines broke down, they just fixed them. Then they showed their neighbors how to fix them. And so on, until spare parts stores from Earth were forced to open branches and deposits on the alien planets, to cope with the demand.
Four years after the Saproids started their silent war against the humans, their expensive built resorts were now shadowed by the human ones and were barely making any profit. All the planets where old humans had moved, and whereon the Saproids had booming companies like Xerop Utilities, were now reporting massive losses.
The Saproid council held elections and removed the generals responsible for this debacle from the leadership.
submitted by Aiass to HFY [link] [comments]

2020.10.22 08:02 Caliponix House voyeur access free

I spent five years of my life in love with a predator. I question my judgement, with every encounter, because I know this snake got past it. I call him X.
I Loved Him. I felt soo lucky that he seemed interested in me, despite the ‘disadvantage’ of being 23 years younger than him. This wasn’t a trend in my life, I’d never dated someone remotely that far from my age range. It was something about X. I fell in love with his brain, his humor, the way my skin tingled when he touched me. For a while the chemistry was pure and electric.
There were issues, but they mostly seemed to come back at me. I was significantly less well off than X, he was a Dr. A well respected GP within his community. I was a single mother in my early 20s, and working at that time as a certified massage therapist. Daily life was a struggle for me, and X used money as a reason to withhold respect. If I wanted respect, I could be an equal contributor. Except he would always assure me that he knew I probably wouldn’t be able to make a comparable amount of money to him, he would accept it if I just achieved what he knew I was capable of. Because of how much he loved, and believed in me. Of course, getting a better job, rounding out my education, and raising my daughter were priorities for me, so him pushing me towards these things rang no alarms at the time.
I have spent most of my 20s trying to ‘Make It’. I’m 30 now. I didn’t ‘Make it’.
When X and I had been together about a year, when I was a 24 year old mother of 1, I learned that I had a genetic condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. The diagnosis was difficult to hear, but it clarified many of the unexplained health issues that had complicated my path to self sufficiency.
It was this diagnosis that led me to two, very painful, realizations. 1) I needed to retire from the career that was supporting my needs 2) I shouldn’t have any more children. For my health and theirs.
X was fine with us not planning to have children; he even got a vasectomy the following year. It was harder for me to accept. I had always hoped to have at least two children, I’m a middle child of four, and I wanted my daughter to have a sibling. It was a frequent subject of discussion for the year before his vasectomy, and even for some time after. I had a lot of trouble reconciling my understanding of my medical problems with my desires for the family I wanted to build.
X had 2 children of his own, a boy and a girl. Our kids were all 3 years apart, with my daughter being the youngest (*3yo at the start of our relationship). Neither he nor his children got on well with my daughter, despite me having a good relationship with both of his children. I couldn’t seem to get them to stop treating my daughter like an intruder, to give her the same latitude and understanding that they gave each other… I failed at communicating this, or preventing the bullying from affecting my daughter. I’ll carry the shame of that for the rest of my life. When my daughter comes to me about this one day, I’ll have no defense. Only apologies. She deserved so much better than that.
The really sad part is that I was convinced that she was still better off in that situation, than with me alone. I was so beaten down, so convinced of my own ineptitude. I relied on X to be the stability he said I lacked. At least she lived in a nice house, room to run and play safely, a tree-house to zip line off of (X and I spent 2 years building that), and chickens to chase. My daughter is just 10 now, and still has fond memories of that house, and the home we had there. I wonder when she’ll start to remember the bad. I’ll be here for her when she does.
INCIDENT: It was probably early fall, I can’t quite remember the exact details because this night was like so many others. Until it wasn’t. We had gone out to our hot tub, smoked some weed, X had a whisky and I had a hard cider. X had taken an Ambien right before getting into the hot tub, without planning to go to sleep, or telling me that he had taken a drug that impaired him to that degree. I don’t remember much about the conversation we’d had, but I do remember that I had to put a tampon in before getting in the hot-tub, since I was on the tail end of my period (Sorry TMI, but its relevant).
We came inside, toweled off, and were snacking away our munchies in the kitchen while family guy played on the TV in the living room. The open floor plan had the back of the main sofa parallel with the kitchen island, maybe 8 feet apart. Our heavy robes for walking in/outside were draped over the back of the couch, along with our clothes.
X was being sexual, groping me and manhandling me more than was typical even for him. I was beginning to sense that something was wrong. We were standing in front of the dishwasher; I had my back to the counter. We started to kiss, I tried to gently push him back from me, and he responded by grabbing me by the throat. He pushed me backwards quickly, with his body pressed against my legs holding them in place he forced my upper body straight back onto the counter. I was bent like an L over that counter backwards, I thought I had broken my spine, or ruptured a disc. After all, I could only go on the intensity of the pain I was feeling, which was extreme. I cried out “PANDA!!!” which while ridiculous, was also my safe word. He ignored it.
I began to scream, frantic shrieks of pain. At first X looked annoyed, but then he started to laugh. He pulled me down from the counter and dropped me to the floor facedown. I was still screaming. I was Begging him for help, while he watched me writhe. He told me to Shut Up. He kept laughing at me the whole time. Insulting me… for my low pain tolerance I guess. I slowly began to pull myself away from him, towards to sofa in the living room. Mostly I was dragging myself by my arms, as my legs were seized up and numb still from the trauma to my spinal column. I can’t remember everything he said, I only remember feeling increasing dread when he finally walked over to me. I wasn’t sure what was about to happen.
He reached down and pulled me up by my right wrist, and tossed me facedown over the back of the couch. My face was buried in the back of the brown suede seat, and I could feel X behind me, pressed against my butt, hard. He slapped my behind several times, very hard and then he was clearly about to start having sex with me. All the while I’m saying No No No over and over again, Panda, over and over again. At one point, right before he was about to enter I almost got him to stop, I cried “I’ve got a tampon in!” I felt his pause. Then he laughed again, and said he didn’t care. He entered me. Despite the waterlogged tampon in the way he just plugged away. It hurt very much. Sex was painful for weeks after that, but X seemed oblivious as to why my vag might need a @#%ing break. He didn’t apologize that I recall, or bring it up. I certainly didn’t. I kept my head down, worked my two jobs and juggled full time college courses. Dying inside. Being the best girlfriend he didn’t deserve, so that I could protect the life I had built for myself and my daughter.
INCIDENT: Nov 5-19th continuous It began just after election night. I got sick, very sick, while I was at my campus taking one of my classes. X and his kids had to come and pick me up because I wasn’t able to drive. He was very put out about it all, it was an inconvenience to him. I spent the next week with a rising fever, constant vomiting, a headache that’s close cousins with a hatchet, and body aches with chills fit to shatter me apart. I medicated for my symptoms, Tylenol, ibuprofen, all the standard stuff, which of course I had on hand living with an M.D. X kept a pharmacy in his walk in closet and under the sink. I tried to take care of myself, because DR X wanted nothing to do with me.
He felt I was ‘too upset’ about the election. It was nbd that Trump was setting down the path that led to HERE (10/21/2020). This was his justification for ignoring me while I wilted away. Sunday he left me alone, with all three children and informed me that it was my job to supervise them through all their Sunday chores while he was out. Never mind that I wound up chasing those cats until sanity demanded that I take a break from puking so I could do their chores myself. That way X wouldn’t come down on me for them not being done. I don’t know how I did it. He came home at the kids’ bedtime, and didn’t express any concern for me. It was Monday night when I took my temperature, it was 104.4 F.
I knew I was in serious trouble. X was out with his son, and his daughter with her mother, so I called a friend to take me to an urgent care. They transported me to a nearby hospital where I stayed for a week while under treatment for an aggressive kidney infection. It had been difficult to diagnose initially, because of my medical history with kidney infections, I’m generally pretty sure when I have one. But this sneaky bugger was asymptomatic, so I just thought I had a WICKED FLU that I needed to wait out.
X showed up 2x while I was in the hospital. Once the night I was admitted, to bring me a few things (*I think? Can’t really remember what happened that night, I was delirious), he didn’t hang around long. The next time was to pick, me up, the following Friday afternoon. I thought maybe he’d feel badly about how he’d treated me the week before, as I’d been getting sicker. He did initially, I thought. He wanted me to come with him, he said, to a friend’s house for a barbeque.
He’d been invited, and he’d been so busy all week and hadn’t had any time for HIM. “So it would mean so much if we could do this together, baby, please?” It turns out this friend was someone I’d met before, and didn’t have a great relationship with. I’d mostly been able to deescalate and stay chill around this guy, but he’s a real life troll who loves ticking people off, so it was a real struggle. It didn’t help that his relationship with his longtime girlfriend was one of the most obviously abusive relationships I’d ever seen. His name was Greg.
After attempting to get him to go on his own, let me stay home and rest (I was still sick, just well enough finally to leave the hospital). He insisted, he wouldn’t be able to enjoy himself if he went and left me home. It was key for his enjoyment that I be present. I wasn’t sure why at the time. I knew what would happen if I insisted on staying home. He would pout the whole night, and whine about how he couldn’t have any fun because he was busy being the BEST GUY EVER and tolerating my preferences. It would be less trouble I thought, to tolerate Greg for a few hours. Get some ground made up with X, let him know his needs were important to me. He claimed constantly that no one worried about his needs, they just expected him to fill theirs. He had been distant, and cruel. He was being nice to me right then, and I didn’t want it to change. I had felt so alone in the hospital, so ill for so long, I just wanted to be happy with my boyfriend for the time being. So.. off we went to Gregory’s house.
It was a long drive, about 45 minutes. We listened to music and talked about nothing, it was nice. As we were winding the long dirt road that was Greg’s driveway X casually tossed out: “Hey, just so you know, Greg is really happy about the election. Turns out he’s a huge Trump guy.” JUST F#$*ING GREAT
I generally prefer to avoid conflict. Its one of my chief character traits/flaws, and X was in no way ignorant of how stressful I would find this situation. I had brought along a book, and told him I planned to keep to myself and read my book. I wasn’t interested in engaging with Greg this way. But it was too late to back out, the drive was too long and I’d come in X’s car. I was stuck, and he knew it.
Greg started in on me right away. He basically ignored X and focused all his efforts on taunting the SJW snowflake millennial. I tried to ignore his baiting, and be civil, but indicate that I preferred to read my book, not talk about politics. He ignored this and instead grilled my awareness of Alt-right talking points against the Clintons. This went on for hours. I kept my cool for a long time. I tried to argue with facts, and not be diverted by his many attempts to bait me.
In order to gain some brief respite I wound up volunteering to cook dinner for everyone, since Greg’s browbeaten girlfriend couldn’t seem to figure out what would make ‘the men’ happy. She was so relieved when I offered; she scampered off to watch true c rime while I made Sloppy Joes, mac’n cheese, and a Caesar Salad. Greg showed up once the plates hit the table, tucked in and started straight back on politics.
I admit, I knew when I said that Trump’s history as a chauvinist and alleged Rapist made him unfit for office that I would strike a nerve. Turns out it was Greg’s Hulk Button. He literally turned purple defending Trump(?)’s relationships with women. It was at this point that true insults, no longer disguised thinly as jokes began to fly between Greg and I. X NEVER OPENED HIS MOUTH. He just Watched.
After a few moments of escalating screaming, I left Greg’s home and went outside to wait for X, so we could leave. X didn’t come out for almost half an hour. He told me later that he was trying to calm down Greg, he felt bad that I’d upset him.
As we drove off in silence, one question kept coming up in my mind, and finally I asked him: “Why did you want me to come? Didn’t you know this would happen?” “No!” he insisted “I just thought it would be funny, give you a chance to rip into a trump guy, right?” “You know I hate conflict in general, and arguing with stupid people in specific! How could you think this was ok?” I never got an adequate answer from him. He usually claims ignorance of the potential outcome. If that’s true, then he’s a lot less smart than he likes to assert. I spent the next few days resting at home, doing my best to avoid him, and the inevitable conflict that would follow.
INCIDENT: Spring 2017 Another incident with a friend of X’s. His name is Ted. Ted comes over to our house one day and starts playing the Libertarians favorite game: bait the libtard (his words)
I’m trying to be a good hostess, fetching drinks and politely listening to this man explain away societies problems based on his experiences as a ‘self made career military man’. Dude fixes Blackhawk helicopters. He’s in his sixties, I think. X sat there, while Ted talked about the wage gap being a figment of the liberal imagination. Women and men get paid the same for the same work, period. This was his stance, and X replies “Yeah, I don’t know any female Dr’s who make less than me, if they work as hard.”
I was stunned. Not only was this a**hole in my house spouting chauvanist BS--Ugh, sorry, this still steams me up..—X was agreeing with him, supporting his arguments. I was so angry, but felt outnumbered so I opted to retreat. I left the house and went for a cigarette. When I came back Ted was getting on his motorcycle and left. He was so shaken by the whole interaction he wrecked a few miles away, luckily sustaining only minor injuries. I was blamed for this by X. But we didn’t know that Yet.
We began to argue heatedly, I was angry and hurt that he had sided with Ted on this Factually documented issue in our society. When I brought this up, he insisted he was as Woke as Woke Gets, and if I really loved him I would know that of course he supports women’s rights, black rights, trans rights, gay rights.. until one of his friends disagrees. Then his views magically shift to line up with all these right wing conservative libertarian guys, which seemed to compromise about 60% of his friend group.
The fight got more heated. I tried to leave, to cool off, and X insisted I needed to stay, to work things out. We were in our bedroom, and he blocked my access to the door. I was overwrought and coming undone, I wanted nothing more in that moment than to get away from him. He grabs my arms above the elbows and wrestles me to the ground. I writhed, trying to get away. My left elbow was ground into the carpet repeatedly, and I have the scars of blotches on my arm 3 years later where they were skinned.
I was blamed for this. I was blamed for ‘ruining our date night’ because I had an issue with something totally unimportant. I’d over reacted. He convinced me that I had. I could only push so far before the knowledge that my ability to provide a home for my daughter hinged on this relationship working. No way could I afford a place on my own on one salary, let alone one fit to share with my then six year old. We went on our date night that night, a group dinner with many of his friends. He didn’t speak to me the whole evening, barely even on the ride home. That was how he acted after he got his way. To really hammer home that it wasn’t worth it for me to take any issue, with anything he said or did. I think that was the day I realized I had to leave him. It would take time, and I needed a plan.
EXODUS: I spent 2 months looking for a place to live, searching for new jobs, new options. In July I went to a protest on Monument Avenue in Richmond, and there I ran into some old friends, people I hadn’t hung out with since I met X. For the first time in a long time, I was social with someone other than HIS friends, or people at my work or school. I was a very busy person, always going. I’d spent 5 years getting more and more isolated. The floodgates opened, and I told them what was happening. They helped me coordinate, and find a place that I could move to inside of the week. I had a plan; my dad was even flying out to help me move. X still didn’t know.
This was something I struggled with a lot, I felt dishonest, which I suppose is accurate. I lied to him, told him everything was OK. I was withdrawn, and quiet, but mostly focused on not rocking the boat before I could spring my plan into action. I didn’t want to emotionally scar my daughter, so I prepared her, and her father agreed to keep her with him until I made the switch. X was relieved to have time without her around, he didn’t question it.
Just three days before my dad was going to fly in, I was sleeping in my daughter’s bed (for privacy and safety), and was awoken by X, screaming in my face. He’d opened up my phone and gone through my texts, found out what I was planning, and lost his freaking mind. He couldn’t believe that I’d lied to him about wanting to work on our relationship when I was planning to bounce. I told him it was because of this kind of reaction from him that I’d kept the secret. He was flabbergasted, I remember him saying that he –“can’t believe You would ever leave ME, you promised me you’d NEVER leave!”
That really took me aback. I felt a well of guilt, because I HAD promised him that. Then I remembered, I made that promise before he violently raped me. Then I felt less guilt. I told him in no uncertain terms that I was done with him, and he was the reason why. That he’s the demon that haunts my dreams now. When I left following this confrontation, he was throwing my stuff after me, telling me that my life would fall apart without him.
I really wanted him to be wrong. I wish he had been wrong. More than anything, I wish this were the end of the story.
SPIRALLING: For awhile things were ok, I was working multiple jobs, and was able to meet my expenses, and take care of my daughter. The place I was living was 90 min from God and Everywhere, but it was rent free, so that balanced a lot. Then, my health began to spiral. I was in and out of the ER multiple times, and my mental state was beginning to show cracks. Anxiety and depression were ruling my whole life, and I was a wreck. My physical health was what made it all go pear shaped though. I lost two jobs in one week, because of health related issues. I was Fainting, vomiting, etc. It makes you an unreliable employee, dontcha know? So, suddenly money was a serious problem, and the cracks in my mental state turned into the Grand FREAKING Canyon. Straight up, I had a mental breakdown. My best efforts had failed. X had been right. I was a failure. My daughter deserved better than me. At this time she started staying more with her father, and I would visit her there. I didn’t feel capable anymore, I was broken.
Then, there was this day, where my friend had kindly offered to let me stay at his house while I tried to snap myself out of it. I climbed into the shower.. and I didn’t leave it for almost three days. I just cried. Constantly.
In a moment of weakness, I reached out to X, whom I had totally cut off contact with several months before. He was doing great! He’d started going to therapy, and meditating every day. Really ‘worked’ on himself. He seemed like a totally different man than the one I’d left the year before. I began to wonder if I’d made a mistake.
X spent a lot of time with me for the next few weeks, trying to help me put myself back together. I was very near the danger zone… mentally speaking, and I felt a lot of gratitude to him for helping me out of my spiral.
Now, lets fast forward to August 2019. I had moved from my home on the east coast out to AZ to be closer to my dad. My daughter is currently living overseas with her father (who has been supportive throughout this process) and thriving. I am somehow able to better serve her as her mother from a distance, we talk every day, discuss life and difficulties. Its not ideal, but in the times of Covid, I’m just glad that she’s somewhere safe.
Now, this was right after she’d left the country, and the situation was still fresh. I was lonely, and sad. I missed my daughter. I’d had her with me every single day for a year, and suddenly, poof, she’s gone.
X calls me, and says he has plans to go to Dragon Con in Atlanta, just like he and I had done together the last four years. He wants me to go with him. Offers to buy my ticket and take care of the plane, he insisted he wouldn’t have any fun there if I wasn’t with him. I decided that it would be a good distraction, which I needed at that point. I thought, after a full year of weekly therapy and daily meditation and self reflection, as well as many discussions with me regarding the abuse he committed against me while we were together. He seemed to truly have internalized what I’d told him, and done the work to address his behaviors. I felt safe to go. Surely, things would be different now. I feel like such an idiot.
At first, things were mostly ok. We walked around the booths, saw famous people, smoked, and hung out with people that we’d met there over the years. One such man was Justin. I’d only met him one other year, and hadn’t spent much time around him before this. However, this time, he was in the room next door to ours, so the run ins and hang outs were more frequent. He, X and I spent most of the weekend together going around the Con. Saturday night, while riding up the Marriott elevator to our rooms, Justin casually mentioned that if we ever wanted a partner for a 3 way, he would be down.
At first I thought he was joking, and then X looked at me. Grinned and winked. This wouldn’t be a first for us, he has a voyeurism thing, and I have an ‘I like good sex’ thing. We chatted about it briefly before realizing we were all very much down for this. We spent the entire next day and a good chunk of the night in bed. Not gonna go into detail there, sorry.
Ok, I do have to go into some detail, very minor. While the three of us had been mutually involved all day, it turned out that the pairing that ended the session was Justin and I. By the end of it I was so sore, unless you have lady parts I don’t know how to convey how tender and raw my insides felt after this MARATHON session of really lovely sex. Some of it was even with X.
Justin packs up to leave in the morning, the con is over, and the mass exodus of nerds has begun. Our hotel checkout isn’t until the afternoon, X plans to drop me off at the airport before beginning his drive home. Once Justin goes, X tells me that before I leave, he wants us to have sex one more time. I told him I was in too much pain, No. I was pretty firm on that point. He told me that after paying for everything, including my plane home, he wanted to be the last penis inside me, and since it was so important to his emotional state he contended that I should just lay back and think of England. So, that’s exactly what happened. It was excruciating. I thought about it the entire plane ride home. My dad was so mad that I had gone on the trip with X in the first place that he and his wife stopped talking to me when I came back. I mean, they were right. I couldn’t tell them what had happened. It’s my own fault, right? My own shitty judgment.
He didn’t really change. His feelings (a.k.a: dick) were more important than my physical pain.
I don’t know why I didn’t cut him off right then.
We were in contact fairly frequently over the last year. We are not together, but X tries to maintain that connection with me. Saying I’m free to date who I want, obviously, but wait, who are you going out with? Will there be men there? Do they have PENISES??? I’m exaggerating, ok. Let’s just say he was hyper aware of the potential of me meeting someone else. He would talk about the singularness of our love, how nothing else could compare. He constantly brought up the idea that we would end up together, once our kids were grown and his parents die he’s pretty sure that’s all our relationship issues dealt with. I usually responded tepidly. I told him I didn’t think that was likely, that we broke up for damn good reasons. None of that ever stuck to his Teflon brain. I felt like I still needed him. I don’t really get why. Part of it is defiantly medical. I’ve relied on his help for way too long. In a world with unreliable insurance coverage knowing a Dr can save you a pretty penny. But I realized, recently, that knowing him is a stone around my neck. I’ve gone no contact. I hope it’s for the last time.
Unless there is some way for me to force him to face some accountability for this shit, I never want to speak to him again. I thought he’d changed, I thought maybe I’d helped make him a better man. I didn’t, I just made him a better manipulator.
ISMS: X- “The Safest place for you is Right next to Me.” “You know, you take this for granted, but I’m in this because I LOVE you, not because I’m worried about where I’m gonna live, or if I can keep custody of my kids! I’m in this because I Value You.” “WHAT?!-That was Rape??” “There’s nothing stopping you, you just need to try harder (subtext: Be More Like Me)
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2020.08.02 00:48 FrancescoAmic1 Voyeur house free access

This is my translation of the first part of the journalistic inquiry on the connection between Zodiac and the Monster of Florence appeared on the website of the Italian weekly tempi.it two years ago. The second and third parts plus this are too long for Reddit. You can find them here.
Sorry for my English.
Other links related to the inquiry
A recent piece of news that confirms the connection
The first article on suspect's admissions
Ulysses’ testimony in the Monster trial
By Francesco Amicone
The voyeur, the Sardinians, and the farmer
Sant'Angelo is a hamlet on the edge of Calenzano and Sesto Fiorentino: very few houses surrounded by fields and mountains. Not far from there, in a rural crossroads of the only way that goes around the valley, an inscription on a stone cross recalls two names: Susanna Cambi and Stefano Baldi. They were a young couple from Calenzano used to withdraw in the evening on the edge of an olive grove. On the night of October 22, 1981, they were shot to death by the man who went down in history as the "Monster of Florence", a brutal murderer who killed at least seven young couples in the Florentine countryside with a .22 caliber gun between 1974 and 1985 (here’s an explanation of why I do not mention the 1968 case TLN).
More than thirty years have passed since those crimes, but the flowers at the foot of the cross that reminds Susanna and Stefano are still fresh. «It's nice that people haven't forgotten about Susanna and Stefano,» comments Edoardo Orlandi in front of their memorial. Orlandi was already a researcher of the "Monster" case before becoming a criminologist at the University of Florence. Like many Tuscans born in the '80, Orlandi grew up in an environment where the serial killer became an integral part of the history of the city through the trials of the '90. None of which came to any definitive truth about the main perpetrator of the murders. «Very few Florentines believe that the Monster has never really been identified,» notes Orlandi.
Crazy and wily
Law enforcement officers do not immediately understand that they are facing a serial killer. «Only the morning after the Calenzano crime - Orlandi recalls - the Florentine people realize that there was a homicidal maniac who goes hunting for alone couples on moonless nights. And that time the murderer also frightened the Tuscan public opinion which, in a somewhat picturesque way, to play down, had called him "Cicci, the monster of Scandicci”.»
From October 22, 1981, what a few months earlier seemed to have been the work of a schizophrenic drifter takes on new meaning. «The inhabitants of Florence are faced with a socially organized person, whose disturbances, however serious, allow him to act in a cold and lucid manner,» Orlandi explains. He was a madman, not a schizophrenic. The police now faced something that in Italy, before then, had only been seen in movies. An American-style serial killer. One of the shrewdest minds that Italian investigators have ever found themselves fighting and also, the criminologist stresses, «one of the very few serial killers who have been successful.»
From the day he committed the Calenzano crime and for five long years, the "maniac" armed with a torch, pistol, and knife, who had nothing in common with the Florentine or Italian chronicles, became the main news of the local newspapers.
A "provincial" killer
«Although he’s called the Monster of Florence - Orlandi recalls - the crimes claimed by the homicidal maniac never took place in the city but in the neighboring villages.» Borgo San Lorenzo, Scandicci, Calenzano, Galluzzo, Vicchio, Baccaiano, Falciani. These are the names of the crime locations chosen by the serial killer. «These are small courtyards, where the chatter about the crimes quickly made the rounds of the bars,» the criminologist says. This created many problems.
Enzo Spalletti, an ambulance driver, was the first man who pays for a slip of his tongue. Spalletti practiced a "sport" very popular in the province of Florence in the eighties: spying on couples sitting alone in their cars. During the night, dozens of people searched the countryside of Florence to find couples who made love in their car. They lurked along the rows of cypresses, in the acacia woods, armed with infrared binoculars and microphones to caught couples in their privacy. Many of them met in the Chianti taverns the following day to exchange photographs and audio recordings.
«On the morning of 7 June 1981, Spalletti hoed his vegetable garden, then went to his favorite bar, where he told the patrons that he had seen the bodies of the two victims of Scandicci. He was immediately arrested». How did it end? «Three months later the killer struck again in Calenzano, leading to the release of Spalletti and virtually announcing to the Florentines: "You are facing a real serial killer, not a voyeur". The Monster would continue to claim his crimes with the same gun also in the following years, freeing one by one all the suspects sent in prison by the pre-trial judges. «He would only stop in 1985 when no one was jailed for his murders. It’s like he wanted to say to the police: "I don't need your help",» Orlandi observes.
Monster's gun
The so-called "Sardinian lead” ended up in a general acquittal, in 1989. Seven years earlier, about July 20, 1982, the detectives began to follow the track left by the Monster from bullets and shells found in a case-file of a double murder near Florence accrued in a “Sardinian” environment (Barbara Locci and Antonio Lo Bianco - August 22, 1968). The marks on the shells were identical to those found on the crime scenes of the serial killer from 1974 onwards. The man convicted for the crime of ‘68, Barbara Locci's husband, Stefano Mele, was in prison in 1974, however.
You can have doubts about the authorship of the crime of 1968, «but as regards Mele's responsibility - recalls Orlandi - it is a fact that Locci's husband had been found with the fat spread on his hands, the morning after the crime. Mele - continues the criminologist - has never been able to give a reason for what appeared to the investigators of the time as a banal attempt to deceive the paraffin glove (test to which Mele was positive).» Mele charged himself with the crime, then accused acquaintances. Finally, he was sentenced. Beginning in 1982 it was therefore thought that the serial killer might somehow have had access to the gun used in the ‘68 murders and used it later. All the people who may have participated in the ‘68 crime were arrested one by one: Francesco Vinci, Piero Mucciarini, Giovanni Mele. Salvatore Vinci was also arrested with another excuse. Nothing was found.
From the real killer to Pietro Pacciani
Who is really the “couple maniac”? What personality is hidden behind the mask he wears for his audience? The Monster, according to Orlandi, «most likely appears as a normal person, otherwise, it would not be explained why it has never been possible to identify him up to now.» «He is a person with two lives - the criminologist explains - in the normal one, he is a citizen like the others, in the secret one, he is the maniac of moonless nights.» Perhaps this is one of those very rare cases in which criminologists face someone who embodies the protagonist of Robert Louis Stevenson, the famous "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". The Monster seems to flaunt two faces also in his crimes. «On the one hand, he is the practical, efficient and smart person, self-confident who leaves no traces and clues; on the other one, it is the maniac who takes very high risks to respect his crazy rituals and challenge investigators,» Orlandi says.
The criminological expertise of a team of the University of Modena drawn up by Francesco De Fazio, Ivan Galliani, Salvatore Luberto in 1984 describes the Monster as "methodical", "systematic", "cautious", "astute". However, the experts point out that the Monster suffers from a serious psychic pathology, which reaches the peak of the acute phase when he kills. «The exceptional nature of this serial killer - underlines Orlandi, paraphrasing the expertise of the University of Modena - is that he completes his ambushes in a situation of strong emotional charge. Yet, in this phase of acute psychosis, he is capable of modulating strength, approaching victims in silence, shooting and hitting, moving bodies, and mutilating them. He also managed to quickly change weapons and torch in the dark. All this without making mistakes.»
«The Monster - Orlandi concludes - is a maniac who moves between Mugello and Chianti with the same security as a hitman.»
A man light years away from the depicted suspect was the result of the "super-computer" screening with which the Florence prosecutor led by Pier Luigi Vigna comes to Pietro Pacciani.
Where are the killer's "souvenirs"?
In 1990, the Florence Police Anti-Monster Squad (SAM) was still looking for the manic perpetrator of the seven double murders that occurred in the Florentine countryside between 1974 and 1985. A few years earlier, in an anonymous letter, an alleged Monster had warned the investigators: «You won't take me if I don't want to ... I'm very close to you.» Authentic Monster’s letter or not, it confirmed the impression of the SAM agents. The killer had always been one step ahead of them. As if he knew their moves in advance. Besides, why hadn't the fake couples, the police and Carabinieri blocks, the investigation, or the arrests been able to stop him? What had given the Monster the security to be able to challenge the city and the police, always acting in the same period, every year, for five consecutive years? How had he managed to plan his crimes in an area on high alert, strewn with Chianti and Mugello with euphemistic signs "Danger: risk of aggressions"? How was it possible that, despite the precautions and resources used, despite the 300 million Lire bounty (300.000 $) - the only one ever issued by the Italian State - the killer had escaped capture?
So, when Florentines discovered that the main suspect of the Florence Prosecutor's Office was Pierino Pacciani, a peasant, the "young wicked boy" whose minstrel Giubba sang at village fairs for his crime of passion of 40 years before, people shake their heads. It will take all the efforts of the mass media to make it possible for a larger minority of Florentines to accept that Vampa (blaze) - as he was nicknamed in the village - is the icy murderer who had terrorized the city for shine and from whom the citizens still feel threatened. But the prosecutors led by Vigna were certain: Pacciani was the Monster.
When investigations into Pacciani begin, Ruggero Perugini, Sam's chief, has just returned from Quantico, home of the FBI Behavioral Science Unit - the world specialists in the "serial murder" discipline. Roy Hazelwood, the guru of the unit, had warned the Italian detective: «If you find these trinkets, it means that you have found the killer.» Hazelwood had shown Perugini some objects that criminals like the Monster of Florence jealously guard. Criminologists call it "booty". These are the personal belongings of the victims that serial killers steal to remember and claim their murders. To date, nothing of the sort has ever been found.
The selection
It had been the voyeur's turn, then the Sardinians’ one. The defendant, this time, was a son and grandson of sharecroppers. His red face well known in San Casciano testified that the farmer had nothing of the cold and wily serial killer. At the trial, one of the witnesses would say that you could mistake him for the «god Bacchus» if you observed him serving wine at a Festa dell’Unità in the 1980s. Yet the prosecution had made a commitment to find someone who would tell something compatible with the accusatory picture (a serial murderer, calm, lucid, and above all sober). Maybe Pacciani terrified someone in San Casciano? Not even this. It was discovered that the Vampa had not only given them (the beatings) but he had also taken many, and many: a beating in 1951 by Giampiero Vigilanti, former French legionary of Prato; many handbags from "Cinzia", ​​a prostitute who walked between the Via Scopeti and Cassia, in San Casciano, near the Florence American Cemetery; a few slaps from the gamekeeper Gino Bruni, whom Pacciani had threatened with a pitchfork. These stories, however, appear to be more authentic than the "scientific" analyzes of Pacciani's "secret" personality which was shown in the newspapers during the trial period.
The former Florence attorney general, Piero Tony - who represented the accusation against Pacciani in the appeal trial- asked for Pacciani's acquittal and obtained it. Twenty years later, he still has the same idea about Vampa's guilt as his lawyers Rosario Bevacqua and Pietro Fioravanti: «Pacciani was a man who committed many crimes in his life, but he was not the Monster,» Tony says.
The former Florence attorney general has always criticized the method that the Public Prosecutor's Office decided to use to arrive at the identity of the Monster: «The mechanism by which attention was focused on Pacciani - says Tony - was the following: between many things, it was assumed that the serial killer had attracted someone's attention; then, that he had a dirty criminal record and was resident in the province of Florence.» «Pacciani - continues the former prosecutor - had been reported by an anonymous letter, had a criminal record (he had killed a man in 1951 and had abused his daughters for years), lived in San Casciano and was not in jail when the Monster had killed. It was therefore deduced that Pacciani could be the serial killer.» «This mechanism - explains Tony - has not been fully respected. According to the parameters that the investigators had given themselves the name of Pacciani must have been off the list of suspects. For two reasons: he did not respect - at all - the profile drawn up by criminologists; at the time of the crimes he was not healthy (he had suffered a heart attack).»
The “hunchback” bullet
For some reason, the idiom "farmer: big shoes and clever mind" was heralded by the press lined up with the Public Prosecutor's Office as an indication of guilt in a serial murder case. It was forgotten that the syllogism made all people with work boots and an above-average IQ suspicious. Not just the farmers. But also - for example - the man from whom Pacciani felt "persecuted". It was this «long-legged intellectual» who had prevented him from entering the house of an old fortune-teller in the village. Or the mysterious man who stalked him in nightmares, the "General of Death". And also the character in military clothes and with "Mickey Mouse" military boots, which appeared in a drawing by the Chilean artist Christian Olivares, a sketch of a theatrical scenography for the filmmaker Raphael Ruiz that was found in the Vampa’s house.
Pacciani had renamed the work of Olivares: «Dream of fairy science (instead of “science fiction”), summer in San Casciano.» He had put his signature on the bottom and put the painting above the fireplace in the living room. The psychologists heard by the prosecutor's office did not see in it a denunciation of the Pinochet regime - which in fact it was - but the work of a deranged, a sexual maniac suffering from serious disturbances. The famous critic Vittorio Sgarbi, having heard that the Florence Public Prosecutor's Office attributed the hand of a follower of Salvador Dalì to Vampa, obviously took the ball for one of his reprimands. The real author - in voluntary exile in the Canaries - sent a fax to La Repubblica, explaining the meaning of drawing to psychologists. Vampa simply shrugged: «I always said I just colored it.»
In early 1993, not even Perugini seemed to be certain of Pacciani's guilt. While investigating the farmer from San Casciano, the chief of the SAM had publicly appealed to a still faceless serial killer. Perugini had offered him a hand to «get out of the nightmare.» How did the Monster react to the appeal? A few months later, in April, during a search, the detectives found a 22-caliber bullet in the farmer's garden of Pacciani (this bullet had been forged, a Prosecutor’s Office expertise found out in 2019 – here’s the news TLN).
«A “hunchbacked” nail?» Vampa asked while Perugini showed him the artifact. It was not a "nail", but a “hunchbacked” bullet, a misshapen cartridge similar to what the Monster had left on crime scenes. Was stuck in a stake in the farmer's vineyard. Right at the breaking point of a stake broken for less than a week.
It was necessary to wait for the appeal trial for the Court and the Prosecutor to be informed informally by the defense expert, Enrico Manieri, that that bullet was a "fake": he had been loaded on a weapon other than that of the killer. The conclusion was obvious: someone had wanted to frame Pacciani.
«An infamous column»
«Before the trial, we also received an anonymous letter. A guide rod of a Beretta was attached - Tony says - The author of the letter said that it had been buried by the Vampa, “a devil who enchants the fools on TV”. But even that was an indication of little value, as well as of dubious origin».
Regarding this “gift”, the president of the Court that acquitted Pacciani at the Appeal, Francesco Ferri - a magistrate who continued to be inspired by the books by Alessandro Manzoni and the Verri brothers also at the time of Tangentopoli - observed that if the guide rode was one of the 48 parts of the supposed Beretta that would be buried by Pacciani at various points in the campaign, the prosecutor Paolo Canessa and his team of investigators would have had to unearth another 47 parts before holding the whole proof. «Have you at least found the map?» Ferri ironized in his book “The Pacciani’s trial, an infamous column?”.The accusatory picture that the prosecutor Canessa had brought to court collapsed piece by piece at the Appeal. Among the most important ones was the Giuseppe Bevilacqua’s testimony. He was a former criminal investigator of the U.S. Army and the superintendent of the Florence American Cemetery, at the time of the Monster's crimes.
Lawyers from the US Embassy in Rome had warned him about Italian justice. Joe - that’s what he called himself - could get into a mess. He benefitted from diplomatic immunity granted for international courtesy to the technical personnel of the American mission, why take the risk?
The Repubblica article “Pacciani was in the woods” by Franca Selvatici, on 7 June 1994, signed also reports that the official of the American Battle Monuments Commission was very busy on 6 June 1994. On the day of his deposition, he would have to go to the D-Day ceremony which also attended by President Bill Clinton. Bevilacqua decided to make his contribution to the inquiry on the serial murders of the couples, despite everything.
“Joe“ told the Court in an Italian-American slang what he had seen near the scene of the Monster’s latest crime, which took place between 6 and 8 September 1985 in Via Scopeti, San Casciano. The place was located 300 meters as the crow flies from the cemetery, where he lived.
In his deposition at the Pacciani trial - the audio recording is available at radioradicale.it - Bevilacqua claims to have seen the French victim Nadine Mauriot in a “black bikini” while sunbathing under the pines of Via Scopeti. He saw her again, the next day, in the place where she would be killed a few hours later. In the same period of time, he spotted a man whom he then recognized as Pacciani about 500 hundred meters. He was walking at the edge of the woods, near a path that led to the crime scene. The dogs, Bevilacqua claims, barked fiercely that night.
The superintendent of the Florence American Cemetery says he doesn’t know Pacciani. At that point, a dispute arises over the height of Vampa which leads to a confrontation between the accuser and the accused. The two are brought together. They huddle. The scene ended with the astonished words of the counselor Bevacqua: «They are very similar, Your Honor!». Pacciani's lawyer highlighted how difficult it could be to distinguish two unknown people who look alike. When Bevilacqua then insists on claiming that he learned of the murders since the following morning of the crime (the news had not yet been released), his memory is believed to be flawed. That's where it ends.
After a first condemnation, the Vampa was acquitted: «Pacciani - judge Ferri writes - is condemned at first instance without the necessary proofs, on the basis of dialectical tricks, obvious illogicality, speculations, and mere invectives». Ferri resigned as a judge in controversy with the magistrate order and calling the entire trial of Pacciani “an infamous column “. The acquittal will be canceled by the Supreme Court, but the farmer will die before a second appeal trial, on February 22, 1997.
The companions of snacks
Giancarlo Lotti, called “Katanga”, did not go back even when he was wrong. The fact that he did not even have a primary school certificate is one of the reasons why he had to beg for food and accommodation on a daily basis. However, at fifty he still said: «The school is useless.» Lotti would not go back on his decisions, not even on the testimony on the alleged “monsters” of Florence.
At the beginning of 1996, Pacciani was about to be acquitted, the State - usually absent in this case - arrived at Lotti's house (that is, from the priest who hosts him) offering him real accommodation and a salary. In return, Katanga had only one thing to do: become the famous witness who defeated the Monster of Florence. Lotti knew Pacciani. He knew he was a violent individual. And then he was stingy: he had never given him a penny in his life. This is how Lotti, who had no money for gasoline or wine, accepted and began to “sing”.There is a reason why Katanga is the Beta and not the Alpha witness: his testimony is later than that of his friend of “tours”, Fernando Pucci. The Alfa witness, Pucci, is the origin of the theory of the “Companions of snacks”.
In January 1996, Pucci reported to the SAM led by Michele Giuttari at the time that he and his friend Lotti had seen Pacciani in Scopeti on September 8, 1985. They were driving in Lotti's (uninsured) car. They had stopped at the pitch where the French were to urinate, then - Pucci recalled - he felt one, two shots, and went to see that he was there. In the video filmed at the trial, the images following the moment when Pucci told this story, focus on his friend Katanga, in the Court House, who raised his hand and said: «I told Fernando those things.» The story that Pucci has just told was invented: it was not at Scopeti. And Pucci himself immediately confirmed the words of his friend: «Yes, Lotti told me about these things.» It was now clear to the whole Court that the certificate of oligophrenia (or dementia) of the Tuscany Region that Pucci had exhibited before testifying had been given to him for a reason.
Former prosecutor Tony comments on the decision to bring Alfa and Beta to trial as follows: «Let's forget Pucci, who - poor fellow - had a mental illness. I remember, however, that when Lotti's name came out, the priest who had him in charge called to the Prosecutor's Office to warn us not to listen to him.» Yet, Beta would be the pillar (the only one, after Alfa's exploit) of the theory of the so-called “Companions of snacks”, a group composed of the farmer Pacciani, the illiterate Lotti and the postman Mario Vanni, called Torsolo, who would have killed the couples.
«Neither Torsolo nor Katanga knew how to shoot,» Tony observes, «and none of them had the physique or mind of the serial killer. Not even Pacciani.» None of them, in the dark, with a demijohn of red wine in their stomachs, could have hit to death two young germans, Horst Wilhelm Meyer and Jens-Uwe Rüsch, through the plates of a Volkswagen minibus, on September 9, 1983.
«Lotti has made several mistakes in reconstructing the dynamics of the murders - concludes Tony -. Sometimes his lies are hateful. Like when on the ‘84 crime, in which Pia Rontini and Claudio Stefanacci lost their lives, he says that the girl died screaming and moaning. But all the forensic doctors' reports say that Pia immediately lost consciousness.»
The scientific proof of Lotti's lies
«It is a historical fact that in the trial of the “Companions of snacks” there was not a single evidence of guilt that supported Lotti's testimonies”, says Nino Filastò, at the time lawyer of Mario Vanni. But there is scientific evidence to the contrary. One of these was found by a certain “De Gothia”. Behind this nickname hid a brilliant “mostrologist” who for years dedicated himself to the study of the crimes of the Monster, divulging his investigations in publications on the web. De Gothia demolished Lotti's testimony starting from an image taken by Ennio Macconi, photographer of La Nazione, on June 22, 1982, in the aftermath of the crime “number 4” of the Monster. The photograph captures the victims’ car, kidnapped in the parking lot of the Carabinieri di Signa, and scientifically proves that Lotti simply “copied” the investigators' version. But he saw nothing.
The Fiat 147 in which Paolo Mainardi and Antonella Migliorini were killed in 1982 had been found by rescuers and law enforcement officers a few minutes after the crime, in a drainage canal that flanked the road, on the opposite side to where the victims had parked. The driver's door was locked.
The investigators and Lotti have always claimed that the “Companions of snacks” attacked the couple and, therefore, that Paolo, in an attempt to escape, ended up off the road in reverse with the car. Things did not turn out that way. De Gothia promptly dismantles the official reconstruction of the crime, based on the law of gravity. In the photograph taken by Macconi to the car of the victims, a drop of blood appears clearly perpendicular to the ground on the lower part of the driver's door, at the height of the seal. Blood dripped onto the hull while the car was level and the door was open. The car, however, was found in an oblique position and with the door closed and locked. As the blood thickens in six long minutes, the victims could only have been mortally wounded when the killer had closed the car door. Evidently, concluded De Gothia, it was the Monster, not Mainardi, who had driven the car out of the pitch, making a mistake and ending up in the canal. Angrily throwing the car keys and wasting three bullets - as the Monster did - one per headlight and one on the windshield, after such a slip, was certainly more logical than doing it before having killed the couple in the spot.
Lotti lied. This is scientific proof. Not as objectionable as they were, in the Court's opinion, the other six testimonies of that evening which contradicted the Beta’s version.
The companions’ motor pool
According to Lotti's words, he and his acquaintances moved through the streets of Mugello and Chianti with a little fleet of cars to plan and carry out their crimes. «According to Lotti, on the evening of June 19, 1982, two cars were parked along the straight stretch of Via Virginio Nuova,» says Francesco Cappelletti, writer and specialist of the Monster case, «but nobody has seen them. How is it possible?».
Via Virginio is a strip of asphalt that runs for kilometers in the Chianti countryside. The point where Mainardi's car was found is at the center of a stretch hundreds of meters long and without crossbeams, apart from a closed alley. «And still», Cappelletti comments, «there are five eyewitnesses who did not see the Companions of Snacks’ cars that evening». «The cars the witnesses drove - the writer continues - proceeded from the two opposite directions of the road. They noticed the victims’ Fiat 147 before and after it fell in the canal, but not the two cars described by Lotti. The interval of witnesses’ sighting is a few minutes. If none of them saw one of the Companions of Snacks, nor did they ever cross one of their cars, it is because Lotti lied».
To support the fact that Lotti has told a lie, in addition to the force of gravity and the eyes of the five witnesses who saw the crime scene that evening immediately before and after the aggression, there is a sixth witness, Lorenzo Allegranti, the stretcher bearer who rescued the two victims. Allegranti has always claimed that the boy dying was in the back seat and not on the front seat of the car, where instead he should have been, according to Lotti's story. Allegranti's testimony was ignored by the Court which condemned Lotti and Vanni as accomplishes of a supposed Monster (Pietro Pacciani, who died before another trial). The definitive sentence of the Court of Florence transformed the serial killer of the couples, lonely, cold and calculating, who successfully challenged the police, in a grotesque combination of the cultured and secular “black soul” of Florence, and a bunch of patrons from the “Taverna del Diavolo” of Scandicci who killed on the commission of some Masonic lodge.
Italian Authorities in the ’90 and 2000s had gradually passed from an investigation on a murderer on whom all criminological science pointed (and points) to the search of a large community of sinners, without ever reaching the real culprit. It is no coincidence that the only existing “procedural truth” to date is that no one was found definitively guilty as main responsible for the crimes charged to the Monster of Florence. «The serial killer, if he is alive, is still at large,» Cappelletti comments.
This inquiry continues here.
Edited on October 17, 2020
submitted by FrancescoAmic1 to UnresolvedMysteries [link] [comments]

2020.07.16 16:50 xdxx4516JJul Voyeur house free access

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2020.07.03 15:10 KieselguhrKid13 Voyeur house free access

Well folks, this was a doozy of a week, wasn’t it? Some of these sections are quite challenging, for a variety of reasons. But we also see some pretty critical plot developments, and some genuine hilarity at poor Slothrop’s expense, too. Gotta love that cubeb.
This is also where the book really takes off in terms of it’s story arc (especially Slothrop’s origin story), as well as its embrace of sexual deviancy in all its forms, so I’m very curious to see the reactions from the first-timers. It’s a lot to take in.
Anyhoo, I’ll start this with a broader summary of themes, then break the summary and analysis down by section, and include some discussion prompts at the end. There’s a lot to work with this week - this section was twice as long as previous weeks. This analysis is going to be lengthy, but I’ll try to keep as focused as I can.
Several broad themes start to crystallize by this point in the narrative, especially opposition, which takes a multitude of forms: 1-0, white-black, death-life, social control-anarchy, Capitalism-black market, division-unification, colonizer-colonized, domination-submission, Elect-Preterite.
My ordering of items in those pairings is intentional. This book (and Pynchon) sees white, Euro-American colonial culture as intimately tied to a need for control, domination, and a belief in salvation (everyone likes to think they’re part of the Elect, nicht wahr?), which results in a culture of death and division. The War is the embodiment of this. Pynchon repeatedly takes the side of the Preterite - the anarchist, the minority, the colonized. Pigs, which Pynch clearly loves, seem to be emblematic of this noble-yet-humble Preterite.
Related to that is the idea of resisting baser desires and human nature vs accepting them vs sublimating them into full-blown pathologies (e.g. colonialism, Crutchfield the Westwardman). Many of the worst symptoms of society stem from our artificial divisions and denial of the natural order.
So, if we have deadly, pervasive, controlling systems, what are us poor folks stuck inside them to do? How do we free ourselves from the System? From Them?
Pynchon brings up at least three options in this week’s reading:
1.Escape (Katje leaving, vs Gottfried’s passive waiting for salvation) 2.Enjoy the good and ignore the negative (Jessica trying to live in her bubble with Roger, vs. Roger’s unhappy focus on the negatives without being able to change them) 3.Blow it all up (Katje’s option for Schußstelle 3, which she decides against, vs what? Death, perhaps?)
Finally, I’d like to discuss an underlying theme based on a separate work that has strongly influenced Pynchon, and Gravity’s Rainbow: T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. I never realized this before, but I’ve read the poem probably 75 times since I last read GR, so I’m pretty familiar with it by this point.
I highly recommend reading it, but it’s primarily about the decline of Europe after WWI into a wasteland and the death-and-rebirth cycle. A central theme relates to the ancient belief that the harvest god (or later, the king, such as in Arthurian legend) was fundamentally tied to the land. If the king was young and vibrant, the land would be fertile. As the king became old or fell ill, the land would become barren. Thus the king (or harvest god - see the Hanged Man of the tarot) would be sacrificed, either literally or symbolically, so he could be reborn and the land could be restored. “Death is a debt to nature due…” as ol’ Constant Slothrop’s epitaph read. We see this concept explicitly addressed in section 16 (p. 131):

If he’s not in fact the War then he’s its child-surrogate, living high for a certain term but come the ceremonial day, look out. The true king only dies a mock death. Remember. Any number of young men may be selected to die in his place while the real king, foxy old bastard, goes on.
The king is dead. Long live the king.
So how does this connect to our broader themes? Remember earlier when we discussed the invisible hand of the market, and how the economy and even social order are now hidden, directionless systems with no ruler?
If the king is the land and the land is the king, what do we think would happen to the land, to society, if we replaced the king with an invisible, incomprehensible force that operated under its own rules, outside human control? The chaos of WWII? The mass death without clear cause? The markets taking on a life of their own?
I think that’s what Pynchon’s getting at here. Would love your take.
On to our section summaries…
Section 13
YouTube Recording by u/ShisusBolton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69MV1vafocs
Here we delve further into formal psychology and it’s specific application not just on dogs, but humans.
We are finally shown the origin of Slothrop’s unique ability - psychological conditioning by Professor Jampf on poor “Infant Tyrone,” in an experiment that echoes the very real “Little Albert” experiment. We also learn why the connection is sexual - a simple matter of binary practicality to make it easier for lab assistants to measure the response to stimulus x. But what IS this mysterious stimulus? More importantly, was Infant Tyrone properly de-conditioned? It would appear not. Here we get a direct quote from Pavlov, the source for this part’s title. The concept of a “silent extinction beyond the zero,” the failure of which is the source of Slothrop’s rather intimate connection to the V2.
Slothrop is part of the psychological Preterite - a poor sap doomed from the beginning to be abnormal, no chance for salvation here. Controlled entirely by outside forces he’s not even aware of.
Apparently Slothrop’s “talent” is pretty damn precise, since his stars line up perfectly with the rocket strikes. We see some competing explanations for how this could be - from psychokinesis to some echo back through time of the rocket’s blast. We see characters all desperate to figure out why so they can predict where next? Maybe find out if they’re part of the Elect or not. The one possibility none of them consider, cannot consider: what if it’s all random? That’s too terrifying to contemplate for people who believe in predestination. Of course, only Jessica has the empathy to wonder if the women have all died or not.
As a slight aside, on p. 85 we get a linguistic exploration of the concept of “beyond the zero” by Mexico that I really loved:
Odd, odd, odd - think of the word: such white finality in its closing clap of the tongue. It implies moving past the tongue-stop - beyond the zero - and into the other realm. Of course, you don’t move past. But you do realize, intellectually, that’s how you ought to be moving.
The play on “ought” as the extension of “odd” beyond the zero is delightful. Here we also see “white” (remember our many examples of opposition?) being tied to finality. No death-rebirth cycle here.
We are then witness to a discussion between Pointsman and Mexico where the opposition of their personalities comes into sharp relief. Pointsman seeks binary cause/effect, Mexico seeks alternative between the 1 and the 0 - he proposes to “strike off at some other angle.” That scares Pointsman - it undermines not just his science but his fundamental worldview. His is one of predestination.
This also ties into the broader idea of how everyone’s actions and beliefs are consistently shaped by their (often unconscious) fundamental view of the nature of reality and how the world works. Thus, every character’s actions reflect not just their personalities, but distinct assumptions about the nature of causality, of human behavior, of society, of life and death.
Misc. notes:
The abbey near the White Visitation is described as a ruin on a cliff (p. 86) - it brings to mind the Tower from the Tarot and the related imagery of the Castle Perilous (both referenced in The Waste Land).
On p. 90-91 - I’m not positive, but this jumped out to me as an allusion to the play Waiting for Godot. The phrasing and pace of the segment starting “Why do you need me” and ending on the next page with “Help me” sounds very similar to an early scene in Godot, and the works share the themes of purposelessness, meaningless, invisible control, and the question of salvation.
Section 14
YouTube Recording by u/BodinethePig: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6RFKZPX8rQ
Back to the mansion of the opening scene’s banana breakfast. An anonymous cameraman (is it us, the reader?) lends an element of voyeurism, as Katje models for the camera - but why? Meanwhile, Osbie Feel is busy making psychedelic cigarettes from mushrooms grown on the roof.
Pynchon notes Katje’s dress, and I suspect the focus on the name used for that particular cocoa shade is a subtle example of England’s casual racism and colonial past. A derogatory term repurposed for a product.
A view of Osbie’s oven triggers a flashback for Katje, to her time as a double-agent reporting to Pirate on the rocket battery Schußstelle 3, under the command of the sadistic Captain Blicero. We first heard of him back during the seance. His true name is Weissmann (literally white man), and his code name, Blicero, is the Teutonic name for death.
I mentioned the theme of opposition at the beginning of this increasingly-lengthy post, and Blicero is emblematic of one pole - literally white, male, colonizing death. But his teeth reveal hidden decay behind the white exterior. If Blicero is the personification of white Euro-American colonial culture, Pynchon’s saying there’s rot there, and it ain’t pretty.
Here’s where S&M comes into the narrative, in a darkly graphic way. Pynchon is fully willing to make the reader uncomfortable by confronting the parts of life that we normally avoid talking about or acknowledging, including those on the fringe. On top of that, we get the image of Der Kinderofen, echoing both Grimm’s fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel as well as the ovens of the concentration camps.
The house that Blicero, Katje, and Gottfried inhabit is a microcosm of colonialism and/or modern society. It’s literally referred to as “their Little State.” If that’s the case, Katje and Gottfried represent two responses to such a scenario: Katje decides that quitting the game is only way out, whereas Gottfried waits for salvation. Gottfried is confident he’s part of the Elect, but Katje isn’t so sure, and takes matters into her own hands. Meanwhile, the oven looms in the background - both the base of the State, and its ultimate destruction (p. 99). Is Pynchon implying that the modern state is fundamentally self-destructive? It would seem so.
We also get our first look at the other end of the arc: the rockets being fired. Interestingly, we realize they’re not as all-powerful and precise as they first appear. Deadly, sure, but many are exploding right after launch, even on the launchpad, killing the operators.
The flashback to Blicero’s history in colonial Africa introduces us to the Herero people, including Blicero’s lover, Enzian. Enzian represents an entirely different worldview from Blicero - a non-European, non-binary, non-Christian perspective. One of his gods, Ndjambi Karunga, represents the merging of the opposing forces that are so disconnected in the European’s worldview.
Back to the house, and we get more insight into Gottfried’s character. He’s clearly a passive participant, submissive, willing to do as he’s told. “If you cannot sing Siegfried at least you can carry a spear.” (p. 103). He accepts the suffering he endures as part of the system, a normal stage in life before moving on to some career of his own, some form of autonomy. But he doesn’t see any action required on his part to make this happen. After all, “He knows, like everyone, that captive children are always freed in the moment of maximum danger.” (p. 103). That’s the faith of one convinced he’s part of the Elect.
Here we see one of the most well-known quotes from the book - “Don’t forget the real business of the War is buying and selling…. The true war is a celebration of markets.” (p. 105). In the interest of brevity, I’ll leave it to y’all to delve more into this critical section, but at least on the surface, it gives one of Pynchon’s more direct statements on the nature of war, its function, and its objectification of human life.
We also get a fascinating aside on Katje’s ancestor committing avian genocide against the dodoes, that most unfortunate of birds. Yet again, we’re examining the conflict of Preterite vs Elect, and how the fantasy of salvation is is a way to pacify those who are doomed in their current lives. If not that, then all is chance and the dodoes are “only our prey. God could not be that cruel.” (p. 111). But couldn’t he? The evidence doesn’t appear in god’s favor, does it?
Last but not least, we see Katje’s film being put to use to condition good ol’ octopus Grigori. But again, to what end?
Section 15
YouTube Recording (by yours truly): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPgiptRr-W0
Mrs. Quoad! One of the funniest scenes in the book, and one of my favorites. It showcases both Pynchon’s visceral descriptive abilities as well as the insanity of prewar British candy.
Before the Disgusting English Candy Drill, we see Slothrop’s exit from a controlled, laboratory setting and instead being released “into the wild” for observation. He is moving toward Pointsman’s Rorschach-esque experiment, the nature of which is as-yet unknown, but which occupies much of Book 2.
This also marks the beginning of Slothrop’s (fully justified) paranoia. In the words of my father, “it’s not paranoia if they’re actually watching you.” Slothrop senses he’s being followed, observed, and starts to get a bit jumpy. Wouldn’t you?
My analysis is already far too long, so I’m grateful for this mercifully short and simple section. I think we all needed some levity after Blicero, no? Something tells me Pynchon was thinking the same thing in granting the reader this reprieve.
Section 16
YouTube Recording by u/DanteNathanael: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NapZnTK3TRU
In this section, we see more of Roger and Jessica’s history together, and the contrast between his more fearful, negative recognition of the System in which they live, and Jessica’s more carefree willingness to focus on the moments of joy she can find. But even nihilistic Roger finds some beauty on this Christmas eve walk.
An aside: the line, “who are all these people…. Freaks! Freeeeaks!” absolutely cracks me up.
The rest of this section alludes heavily to another poem by our friend T.S. Eliot, Journey of the Magi. It’s fairly short and accessible, and a truly beautiful work. It’s told from the point of view of one of the magi, looking back on his journey:
All this was a long time ago, I remember, / And I would do it again, but set down / This set down / This: were we led all that way for / Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly / We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death, / But had thought they were different; this Birth was / Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We get glimpses into how the War has worn down the population, drained them, recycled even the most mundane objects (e.g. toothpaste tubes) into material for the war. But we also see a reversal of this, with Spam tins recycled into toys for children. An echo of the death/rebirth cycle we previously saw with the king and the land, and in the poem above. A glimmer of hope?
Pynchon discusses how the War relies on the illusion of unity but in fact is founded on disunity, on division. Society and the System depend on broad perception of rational, ordered, mechanistic system. Surrealism, the removal of this illusion of borders, en masse is societal suicide. But also an inextricable part of it. As with the microcosm of Blicero’s oven, the end is baked into the origin. The ordered reality of the System is a facade - even time’s sped up thanks to the War. In fact, Roger’s first moment of optimism, of faith, comes after the choir’s act of “minor surrealism” - the removal of artificial boundaries between race, culture, language (p. 129).
The War destroys the death/rebirth cycle: its death is a finality, with just a gold start as a consolation prize for the dead who lay buried under the snow in a bomb crater, and humans subdivided to the point of being individually numbered. But for a second, for just a second on Christmas eve, people can forget that - even Roger, who enters the ultraparadoxical phase when sound of the choir overcomes his knee-jerk nihilism and actually brings him back around to hope, if just for that night.
  1. What are your thoughts on Professor Jampf’s experiment on poor Infant Tyrone? What might be variable “x”? Does that even matter?
  2. Is Slothrop “sensing” the rockets before they are launched? Are the rockets somehow drawn to the locations of his sexual forays? Is he reading the minds of the rocket operators? Or worse, and most terrifyingly, is it all somehow coincidence?
  3. What was your initial reaction to the section with Blicero, Katje, and Gottfried? Did your perspective change after you finished the entire section?
  4. Why didn’t Katja give up location of Schußstelle 3?
  5. How does “the Change” that Blicero is fixated on play into our larger themes? There’s an allusion here to both Ovid’s Metamorphoses and several Romantic poets. How would you define Blicero’s desires?
  6. The Mrs. Quoad scene seems to largely be a light aside to break up some pretty heavy material. But is there anything more to it? Any other insights to be pulled from the candy jar?
Well, if you made it all the way to the end of this, thank you. I think I put more energy into this than several college essays I turned in, but it was a lot of fun, and I’m blown away by how much I gained from this exercise. I’m excited to see what insights you have!
Addendum: great discussion so far! Thanks for the excellent insights and observations!
submitted by KieselguhrKid13 to ThomasPynchon [link] [comments]

2020.05.29 04:13 Max_Evry Voyeur house free access

The illusion of choice. With the advent of high-speed internet and the streaming revolution, TV viewers nowadays can often feel overwhelmed with the sheer number of choices they have at their disposal. Not just thousands of shows, but thousands of CHANNELS. A channel for everything. A channel streaming footage of blind rescued cats from North Carolina. A channel about chopping firewood. A channel showing you how to assemble an AR-15 rifle. The illusion of all this choice is 98% of those reading this will simply put all these options to the back of their minds and binge watch Stranger Things and Narcos like everyone else… Everyone else except me, that is.
Yes, I'm that creep in the 2% that actually seeks out the weird, obscure and just plain coo-coo-bananas streaming channels that most people don't give two shits about.
My obsession kicked into overdrive when –in a series of unfortunate events I'd rather not get into here- I lost my steady gig four months ago and, bolstered by a cocktail of anti-depressants, have been riding the New York State unemployment train. At least, until I have to make a quick transfer to the Welfare train. Between odd Craigslist gigs to make extra cash and an ever-diminishing number of job interviews, I found myself sleeping in later and later, to the point where I'm often just getting up at 3 or 4pm and not drifting off to the land of nod until dawn (with aid of my Etsy-bought sleeping mask shaped like Grumpy Cat).
As you might have guessed, during those aimless late nights I'm burning through my precious God-given gift of life watching TV. A lot of TV. My TV had built-in streaming, but after cancelling my holy trinity Netflix/Hulu/Amazon subscriptions to trim expenses, I began to rely on the numerous free channels at my disposal. Once you settled into the steady rhythm of poor picture quality and commercial interruptions from auto dealerships in Wisconsin, there were hours of entertainment to be had: Grainy kung-fu flicks from the 70's, Christian yoga and 24-hours-a-day of Gumby.
Occasionally I would try to educate myself with a 10-minute news summary from Bloomberg, or teach myself how to cook bharwan bhindi while eating the leftover second half of my Subway $5 Dollar Foot-Long from the day before. To make life more interesting I started challenging myself to watch a new channel every day, working my way through everything from a cartoon panda teaching me Spanish, to NASA satellite footage, to a channel designed to help dogs relax.
Believe it or not, boredom started to set in, so I decided to dig deeper: Private Channels. Although not without a certain bootleg mystique, Private Channels weren't as illicit as they sounded, usually just unofficial third-party channels for a streaming service without an official app, and not publically listed. Oh, and porn. So much porn.
I even tried to get my roommate Greg into Private Channels, but he said they were "so boring" they made him want to shoot himself in the head.
"I'll stick with Netflix, thank you," he kept telling me.
Granted, there was some truly bizarre stuff I discovered and maybe will get into some other time, but I want to focus on one channel specifically: RSO: RUSSIAN SOAP OPERA.
Now before you start rushing to look up the channel code for the Russian Soap Opera, let me say straight up that it's no longer available, and even the Reddit thread where I saw the code posted has been deleted. All trace of its existence seems to have been purged… And even if it wasn't I wouldn't tell you.
Do I wish I had recorded at least a snippet of footage on my phone? Sure, but to be honest I got too caught up in the madness of it to even think to do that.
One night about a week ago, with my roommate Greg staying at his girlfriend's and me alone in the apartment, RSO: Russian Soap Opera showed up on my TV's home page. It appeared about 24 hours after I had entered the code into the accounts page on my device, along with a few other codes… including a channel with a guy who does magic tricks in his garage.
Everything about RSO screamed "no budget, no frills." Even the box you clicked on to stream the channel was unusually spartan, with no logo or anything, just a basic font with the name.
Once I got to the episode listings there were only two, sans titles. Just little black boxes that said "1" and "2." I clicked on "1" and the action began right away with no credits, already a bad sign…
No matter how little you may think you know about Russia as a country, I know less. You might think of vodka, Borscht, computer hackers or Vlad Putin. With a show called "Russian Soap Opera" I was maybe expecting tales of forbidden romance set amid a bleak Siberian landscape with a bunch of folks wearing furry ushanka-hats, or even a crime saga about the corrupt world of the Russian mob. Nope. The first episode of "RSO" didn't shoot a frame in the former Soviet Union. It was all filmed right here in New York City, USA.
And when I say "filmed," I mean it was shot VERY poorly in 4:3 square format, probably on a 20-year-old DV camera. It had that washed-out "shot-on-tape" look that even the crappiest phone cameras these days could best. I mean, I need you to know it looked AWFUL. To quote MST3K, every frame looked like someone's last known photograph.
So what was it, exactly? The show followed two mustachioed Russian men, both in their late-30s/early-40's who worked as movers in and around Brooklyn. They drove a beat up looking Chevy panel van from the 90's, something the kids these days might refer to as a "rape van." Personally, I think "rape van" might have been too charitable for this scary hunk of junk.
With their identical mustaches, slight frames, dead eyes and rough faces indicating plenty of mileage, the only way to really differentiate the two men was one constantly wore sunglasses while the other was balding. The latter wispy-haired guy seemed to be the subordinate of the sunglasses guy. Since I never caught their names I started to refer to them as "Rusky & Hutch." To myself, I mean.
The chain of long, clumsy handheld shots with poor audio that made up the first episode followed the pair as they drove their moving van to an apartment in Bed-Stuy and helped a couple move their furniture out. The men would occasionally make asides to each other in Russian, but there were no English subtitles so I couldn't really judge their acting chops per-se.
As for the thesps hired to play the American couple, they were INCREDIBLY stiff, with simple lines like "You'll have to wrap the couch cushions separately" or "That vase is my grandmother's, be very careful" spit out so awkwardly I started to wonder if they had even been in front of a camera before, even a security camera. Their acting was so bizarrely bad it actually troubled me.
These weren't really scenes, per se. They were more like watching someone's mundane home movies. I even saw the longhaired CAMERAMAN reflected in the apartment mirror for a second! Terrible filmmaking. You couldn't hear them talking sometimes because said Cameraman was so far away from the action, and they clearly didn't have the budget for a sound guy. The lack of music also made the proceedings extra unsettling.
Once the Balding Man and Sunglasses Man had loaded the van with a couch, a flatscreen TV and several other boxes of valuables, the show skipped over them delivering said items to the couple's new apartment and simply faded to the Balding Man's arrival at his own home in the middle of the night.
His neighborhood was mostly composed of old row houses, maybe East New York? Wherever it was, the Balding Man had to go through a back alley and down a set of steps to a basement-level apartment. The handheld camera followed him like a stalker, and he occasionally looked back at the Cameraman.
Once he made it into the basement it cut to the interior, the style switching up to a static camera now clearly mounted on a tripod all the way in the back of the one-room apartment. With the wide shot you could take in the whole dimly-lit space:
A small, dirty twin mattress with no sheet lay on the carpeted floor. A catatonic-looking Woman in her early 30's was lying on top of it. She was only wearing blue panties and a gray t-shirt with a few holes in it. Through the strands of dark hair draped over her face you could make out her dead eyes staring straight into the camera.
Next to her were several half-eaten sandwiches still in their plastic store wrappers. A Poland Spring water cooler stood a few feet away from the bed. Above the water cooler was one tiny window letting in streetlight from above ground. On the other side of the room was one small clothes dresser, an electric light with no lampshade on top of it. The bare orange bulb was basically the only light source in the room, casting eerie shadows. Two white pipes ran across the stained ceiling. That was it.
The Balding Man walked inside, shutting and chain-locking the door. He took off his coat, tossing it on the floor. He walked right past the Woman on the mattress without addressing her, straight to the back of the room near where the camera was. He stared blankly at something in anticipation. The hissing audio of the silent room made it all the more creepy. God I wished they had put some music over this part.
This part… Here's where things got weird. Yes, as if they weren't weird before, right? The static camera did a 180-degree cut to the man's point of view, and we see what's in the back of the room: A child's crib.
Through the white slats of the crib -covered in splotches of red paint- a shadow of something moved inside. A Baby? The thing inside pulled itself up so its head peaked over the top wooden beam of the crib to reveal… how do I even describe this thing?
It appeared to be a poorly made foam latex puppet of a 1-year-old Baby, with glowing red LED lights in its eyes. I don't mean that its eyes were glowing red LIKE a pair of LEDs, I mean they were visibly LED lights. It was very shoddy, as was the puppeteering work. All it could do was tilt its head slowly from side to side and open its mouth slightly.
The camera switched back to the POV from the crib to show both the Man and the Woman now standing next to each other. You could see the glow of the Baby puppet's two LEDs on the Woman's shirt.
Without any prompting, the Man and the Woman began to… well, dance. Not a joyful dance, a kind of slow Bataan Death March of bobbing and sidestepping. The couple's arms flailed like zombies. It's the kind of dance you would expect someone to do if they were being held at gunpoint.
I know what you might be thinking: Baby puppets with glowing eyes? Two poor assholes dancing against their will? It might sound funny, but I'm telling you right now it was NOT in any way amusing.
And it went on and on for at least 10 or 15 minutes, just these two moving monotonously to no music or sound, clearly exhausted. As for my own reaction, I went from morbid curiosity to a kind of silent distress for these people. This didn't seem like a show, it seemed like something no decent person should be witnessing. I felt like a voyeur, watching a video some sick pervert had paid to have made for their private collection or something.
Just as inexplicably as it started the slow dancing ended, the couple standing there taking deep breaths for a minute before trudging towards the twin mattress where they both laid down, exhausted. The camera remained in place for several minutes just watching the Man and Woman fall asleep. You could actually hear the Balding Man's snores faintly through the silence of this underground bunker of an apartment, still lit by that one bare bulb.
Suddenly the camera jiggled, then began to move. It was like whoever was operating it had taken it off the tripod and walked to the middle of the room across from the sleeping couple. The hand of the Cameraman appeared in front of the lens holding an object –A ROCK- in his hand. The mid-sized rock was held up to the camera for several seconds, anticipating what the sadistic person intended to do… which was to throw the rock at the sleeping Man.
The sound of the rock hitting the Man's side, and the startled cry of pain he let out, was agonizing. The Balding Man did not get out of the bed, he just covered his head with his arms and began to sob.
The Cameraman's hand appeared again, holding up another rock. He threw it even harder, hitting the Man's back. You could hear the impact louder this time, but the Man just continued to sob.
Then the footage ended, fading to black. On the TV it went back to the menu screen with the two black boxes labeled "1" and "2".
JESUS. What the fuck did I just watch?
If this was real it was like watching some snuff torture porn bullshit you'd see on 4chan. If it was fake, whoever was making it clearly fancied himself some kind of a 99-cent store David Lynch.
Now if you were me, would you have watched the second video on the spot, right then and there? Well I didn't. That first RSO video made me feel gross. Mind you, I've seen some sick stuff in my time, but I hadn't felt such a garbage feeling on the inside as I had with this.
Went to bed unusually early for me, 1am. I ran the episode I'd just watched back over in my head. The scene where the Man had rocks thrown at him had been jarring, but in retrospect the most disturbing part was when the Man and Woman were dancing. It was as if they were in a trance. They moved like they had no choice.
That night I had bad dreams I can't remember, and woke up the next day at 11am. After getting dressed up all spiffy I headed into Midtown Manhattan and fake-smiled my way through another interview for a thankless job in a nondescript building I knew I wasn't going to get. A waste of cologne and subway fare. For some reason I remember wanting to tell this hapless assistant who was interviewing me about the strange video I had seen the night before, but thought better of it. There was an irrational need to talk about this Russian Soap Opera… and to see what came next.
Grabbing my usual $5 Dollar Cold Cut Combo, I raced home on the J train, got back to the apartment, powered up the Roku TV, unwrapped my sandwich and braced myself as –against my better judgment- I hit play on RSO Episode "2".
Like the first episode, Episode 2 began straight away with no opening credits. The Balding Man was getting dropped off in his neighborhood by the Sunglasses Man at dusk, a static shot from the alley. Thick fog gave everything a frightening aura. You could barely see the outlines of the trees, row houses or even that white panel van as it drove off.
The Balding Man walked through the same alley he had used to get to his basement apartment in the first episode, but he stopped halfway through. The POV reversed to show what the Man was looking at: In the middle of the fog-drenched alley stood a DOG, a Siberian Husky with piercing bright blue eyes. The animal stood rooted to a spot and stared at the Man. He approached it slowly, but the Husky did not waver.
Kneeling down in front of the stoic animal, he put his hand in front of the Dog's nose to show he was friendly. No sniffing. No movement at all. Just that icy stare directly at the Man.
The next shot was taken from a rare close-up angle: The guy reached down to the Dog's tag dangling from a collar around its neck. The silver tag read "IVAN". Cutting back to the Man, he had a strange unsettled reaction to reading the Dog's name.
It went back to a jerky handheld shot hovering over the Man. He actually turned and looked into the camera, as if he was seeking approval from it for whatever he does next. Here's what he did…
(Remember my description of the Baby from Episode 1? How I said it was obviously a terrible cheap puppet with LEDs for eyes? Well this next part couldn't have been real, but I swear on my life it looked 100% legit. Based on what had come before I know these guys did not have access to cutting edge CGI or make-up effects or anything like that.)
So with a good amount of hesitation, the guy rolls up his right sleeve and puts his hand to the Dog's maw. It opened its jaws as wide as it could, without growling, and then the Man put his hand inside the Dog's mouth. He pushed his probing hand further in, until it passed into the canine's throat. As he probed deeper his ENTIRE FOREARM was INSIDE the Dog. While he was doing this, the Dog didn't so much as flinch. I kept thinking it had to be a prosthetic or animatronic or something. Looking at the Dog's belly you could see it rising and falling as it breathed, and then a slight distention as the Balding Man's hand probed the animal's insides.
The Man looked terrified, understandably. This was not a normal thing he was doing by any means. There was a sudden change in his expression, as if he found what his hands were searching for in the animal's stomach. He began to pull his arm back out through the Dog's wide-open mouth. The arm emerged covered in a kind of black viscera that dripped off onto the sidewalk. The Man's breathing got more intense, like he was hyperventilating. As he pulled the latter half of his forearm out the Dog must have clamped down a little bit because its teeth carved a few small tears in the Man's flesh. The guy winced at the pain.
When his whole arm and hand emerged from out of the Dog he was holding a large, black hammer. The man looked at it perplexed, then looked back at the camera and said something in Russian that I did not understand. Then he said it again, tears in his eyes, almost yelling. The Dog just walks away, out of the alley, disappearing into the fog.
There's a cut as we're now in the apartment again, all the way at the back of the room. Even further back than in the last episode, we actually see the top slats of the crib at the bottom of the shot.
Where the dirty mattress once was now sat a couch, the SAME COUCH that the two men got from the apartment in Bed-Stuy in Episode 1. The exact same one. The Woman was lying on the couch in a torn shirt and panties similar to those she wore in the last video. She lay there on her side in a catatonic stupor.
The Balding Man approached the crib with the hammer in his blackened hand. He walked slowly, purposefully. Staring directly into the camera, he gradually lifted the hammer above his head, as if ready to strike the camera itself.
He couldn't, though.
Something, some force beyond his control was keeping him from bringing the hammer down. His face strained. The single lightbulb on the lamp flickered, causing a strobe effect on the image. He had chosen to strike the camera or whoever was holding it, but it was the illusion of choice. In reality, he had no control.
Keeping the hammer held in the air, the Man's body swiveled and turned around towards the couch. As if propelled by a sudden force of will, his feet rushed over to the couch and the Man began raining down heavy and fast blows onto the Woman's head.
He pummeled her with the hammer so fast and with such bloody force that she never made so much as a whimper. All that could be heard were the wet smacks as her skull caved in, her legs and arms reflexively spasming for a few moments until they lay dormant. Even after she was clearly dead the Man continued to smash her and smash her and smash her. Eventually her head had been pulverized into an unrecognizable mound of mashed brain matter, blood, hair and cracked pieces of skull.
I vomited onto the rug.
This was not fake. This Woman had just been killed right in front of me on television. I had no idea who she was, but this swift and senseless act of murder had ended her life in an unconscionable way.
I paused the episode to clear my head for a second and just catch my breath. This strange show had taken a turn that made it difficult to process just what it is I was seeing. Was this all some kind of sick staged performance, or something genuinely supernatural? Mind control… unnatural creatures… dark magic… I just didn't know what to make of it, only that it was evil and to watch it was clouding my very soul, like black ink spilled into a glass of water.
I hit play.
After several more ferocious, pointless hammer blows the Balding Man suddenly stopped, his frenzy cut off as if a switch had been thrown. He stood over the Woman's bloodied corpse breathing heavily from the exertion. He stared down at her as if he was waking up, just as shocked as I had been a moment earlier.
The man began to cry. The hammer dropped out of his hands and onto the floor with a thud, leaving a splash of blood around where it fell. He fell to his knees weeping. He touched her shoulders, shaking her as if she could possibly wake up. He then reached his hand into the pile of viscera where her head had been, sinking his fingers into it gently.
He pulled his hand from out of the gore and picked up the hammer once again. He began yelling something incomprehensible and smashed the side of his own head with the tool several times, splitting his ear open in several places.
The Man then turned back to the crib where the Cameraman had been filming the whole time. The camera tilted up slightly as the Man got nearer, a frighteningly smooth movement done with a coolness that belied everything that had just happened in the last few minutes.
Reaching into the crib, the Man pulled the fake Baby puppet with the glowing red LED eyes out. He held it in his blood-caked hands with pure hatred and contempt, but as moments passed his expression changed from rage to fear. Absolute terror. The Man's breathing got heavier the longer he stared into this lifeless thing's eyes. He began to scream.
The screaming continued horrifically even as the Baby puppet inexplicably and spontaneously burst into flames. The fire instantly covered the Man's hands and spread quickly to his blood-stained shirt until it engulfed his entire body in a matter of seconds.
The Man's scream became audibly contorted as the flames no doubt savaged his vocal cords, the sound eventually fading even as he stood impossibly upright and still while his entire body burned.
The flames spread across the room, licking the couch and furniture until the whole room was an inferno. Even the slats of the crib visible at the bottom of the frame lit up.
At this point the Cameraman lifted the camera slowly and continued to capture the room as smoke and fire began to obscure the lens. While I can't be sure of what I saw given the distortion of the image, I believe the last thing visible in frame before the whole scene went dark was the camera going straight into the flaming Man, at last tipping him over onto the floor before the screen went black.
Needless to say, it took me awhile to recover from seeing all that play out in front of my disbelieving eyes.
Then I watched it again, both episodes.
Remember when I said I saw the couch from Episode 1 in the Man's apartment in Episode 2? Well in rewatching Episode 1 I paid extra attention to the brief point in the couple's apartment when I could see the longhaired Cameraman in the mirror. I paused that moment, and even with the lousy resolution of the fuzzy DV footage I now noticed that in his right hand was the small handheld camera, and down by his side his left hand held a GUN, a silver revolver. That was why the couple acted so bizarre in Episode 1… they were being forced to "act" at gunpoint by the psychopath who put this "show" together.
I was now also convinced of two things:
1) The Baby was absolutely fake, a puppet.
2) The Dog with the tag that read "IVAN" was absolutely real, as was the surreal act of pulling the hammer out of its body.
Now it was the moment of truth. Given that the Russian Soap Opera recognizably took place in New York, I had to find out if there really was a huge fire in a basement apartment sometime recently.
Digging through the internet I saw articles about several big blazes in large scale apartment complexes, but nothing in a smaller, row house-type situation. Finally I came across a Brooklyn community bulletin site that listed "lesser" fires and there had been one less than two weeks prior.
"A two-alarm fire at an apartment in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn was contained after 9:30pm Thursday by 20 firefighters who quickly put out the blaze. While the fire did not spread to neighboring apartments connected to the building at ____________ Street, two individuals who lived in the basement unit were reported as casualties, the badly burned corpses identified as Anna Krovopuskov (age 29) and Ivan Sobakin (age 42). The family living in the aboveground unit was safely evacuated, while three fire fighters suffered non-life threatening injuries. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and police have yet to rule out foul play."
Ivan. So that was why the Man gave such a startled look when he examined the Dog's nametag. It was his own name. A sign. An omen.
Before I knew it I saw the sun peaking through my bedroom window and realized I hadn't slept all night. A temp agency I was already on thin ice with had booked me for two days of work scanning files at a brokerage in Midtown. To be honest I desperately needed the money from that gig to pay my next month's rent, but in my bloodshot, half-crazed state I decided to blow it off. I didn't even call in to cancel, and when the agency phoned me several times I let it go straight to voicemail. You already know where I went instead…
Upon taking the Q-train to Sheepshead Bay I walked through the mostly residential area, passing a few Russian/Jewish pharmacies and bakeries along the way. Using GPS I made my way to the row house building reported in the article, and saw the charred, soot-stained alleyway still behind police tape.
While using the zoom during an attempt to take a photo with my phone something caught my eye on the screen. It was a shadow at the end of the alley, near the burned-out husk of the basement apartment. It was the Dog.
I stood there frozen for a minute, staring at the animal. Then it started to move towards me. Panicking, I turned and started walking back in the direction I came, now convinced that this had been a bad idea.
My feet propelled me down the sidewalk, but when I turned back after several blocks I was unnerved to see the Dog following me, slowly but steadily. As it was only a block or so away I quickened my pace, trying not to look behind me. I must have gone ten blocks before my ankles started to burn, and when I glanced back the Dog was even closer, half a block.
Finally the green globes of the subway entrance were in sight, and I went into a full-on sprint, but accidentally bumped into a passing female jogger, knocking us both to the ground.
Far from annoyed, the jogger started to laugh. God help me, I've never seen a mean-spirited person on a runner's high. As I was offering to help her up the Dog appeared directly behind me, sitting down.
"Aww, is he yours?" she asked.
I didn't reply verbally, still unnerved by the very presence of the animal. I just shook my head negative.
"Huh, I saw him right behind you, assumed you were both out for a jog," she said, petting the unmoving Dog. She felt for its collar, then said the name on the tag aloud. It was my own name.
I backed away and headed down the subway stairwell. I could hear the jogger woman yelling back at me, asking if I was sure the Dog wasn't mine.
Waiting for the train to come, I sat on a wooden bench, catching my breath.
My own name. Not "IVAN." My name.
I looked up from the grimy station floor, staring at the denizens of the track across the way going the opposite direction. Amid the crowd my eyes caught a glimpse of someone pushing a black baby stroller. A man. A long-haired man. I immediately averted my eyes back to the floor, then closed them until I heard the train coming.
Something –call it intuition- was telling me that as deep into this as I was already, I didn't want to see that man's face. This Cameraman, whoever he was, must be some force of evil. That much was clear. To see his face would be to lose it all. My life, my sanity, or any sense of peace I would ever have would all disappear if I saw his face.
But I didn't. I stared at the floor as I boarded the Q-train and headed away from that neighborhood, that apartment, that Dog and that Cameraman forever, lord willing.
Back at my apartment things were quiet. I had been so wrapped up in all this Russian Soap Opera stuff that I didn't even realize that my roommate Greg hadn't been back here in three days. I wanted to confide in somebody about the RSO, just to have someone acknowledge that it was all "crazy" and I needed to "forget about it"… but he wasn't there. I knew this was his day off from work too.
I tried reaching him on the phone. No answer. I tried reaching his girlfriend on the phone. No answer. I checked their Facebook pages. Neither had posted anything in three days. None of this was usual for them, but maybe I was just being anxious due to what I had just been through.
With no one around I started to spiral into my own head, as I am want to do. I started to think that maybe I needed to leave town, that my time in New York had run its course. No job prospects. Temp work bridges burnt. No girlfriend. No friends. Not even a roommate at the moment. I thought I could hack it in this city, that I had a choice not to go crawling back to my parents' basement with my tail tucked between my legs. Turns out that was the illusion of choice.
Life had become too lonely and too frightening here, and I didn't want to wait to find out what would happen if I stayed. I began to feel like I had to leave right then.
I bought a bus ticket back to Delaware. I called up my parents to tell them I was coming in the next day, that I had run out of options. After I got off the phone I started to cry a little, thinking about the life I could have had in this city: A job, a wife, a kid, a dog, my own place. All the things people wanted, and all I had was a ghastly supernatural television mockery.
I tried getting ahold of Greg again by phone and text. No answer, despite the urgency of the messages I was leaving. If I skipped out on my final rent check maybe then he would call me back. Or maybe not.
After packing all my meager possessions into three small suitcases I switched on the TV. The last thing in the world I wanted to think about now was the goddamn Russian Soap Opera, but there it was, still set to that show page… except now there was a third little black box on the screen with the label "3." A new episode, and all I had to do was click on it.
I'll stick with Netflix, thank you.
submitted by Max_Evry to nosleep [link] [comments]

2020.05.07 19:37 zachariusfrost Voyeur house free access

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

“Ow shit.” I groaned as the stinging from the hydrogen peroxide stung my butt cheek.
“Oh hold still… it’s gonna hurt worse if you keep squirming.” Janine scolded, before jabbing the needle into the wound. I bit down on the belt between my teeth, as the pain worsened. Janine sighed as she worked and I did my best to keep still.
“I can’t believe I agreed to this.” She said, more to herself than me. I honestly couldn’t believe it either. After our little interrogation turned multiple homicide from earlier, I knew going to an actual hospital was out of the question, and luckily Janine was available. She wasn’t happy that I called her at midnight, but then again, would anyone be? She was the only person with medical experience that I knew, so I really had no other option.
Janine kept working, while Erica looked on in concern. Meanwhile Hal was hard at work with the blue-haired girl who still remained unconscious in her frozen knelt position.
“Remind me again what happened to cause this injury?” Janine asked.
“Uh… ninja star.” I replied. Janine just scoffed.
“It’s called a ‘shuriken’.” Hal corrected.
“Yeah… thrown by your new girlfriend might I add?” I replied. Janine turned to Hal who was messing with the blue-haired girl’s remote and a bundle of wires.
“Yeah which is another thing we need to talk about… again.” I had already tried to explain the situation to Janine over the phone, but by this point, we all know how impossible a conversation that is.
“Can you at least cover up her ass?” Janine asked; eluding to the blue-haired girl who was locked in the same position she had powered down in. She was bent over, with her pleaded green skirt flipped up, exposing her blue-striped underwear. Hal grabbed a blanket from the couch and tossed it over her butt, and Janine returned to her work.
“Jesus Christ Carl…” I felt her needle dig into my ass a little harder after that, as Janine’s frustration had clearly set in.
“Good doctor, will he survive his wounds?” Erica asked, concerned. Janine shot her a confused look.
“Uh yeah… it’s just his ass. He’ll be fine so long as he doesn’t call me at midnight anymore. Otherwise I’ll have to tear him a new one.” She pinched the wound and I squirmed but stifled my sass. Erica seemed to breathe a sigh of relief.
“Oh, praised be to God.” Janine continued stitching, and after a few more minutes she had finally completed her work.
“Alright you’re good to go, it may be hard to sit down for a while though. And try not to get the stitches wet.” I rolled on my side and shot her a grimace.
“How am I supposed to shower?” Janine shrugged.
“That one you’ll have to figure out on your own.” She sauntered away into the other room and Erica clutched my hand softly.
“Erica…” She looked to me, eyes seeming to brim with sorrow.
“I’m just so glad you’re okay my lord. I don’t know what I would do without you.” She looked as though she were about to cry, despite her not possessing the ability to. Once again, her genuine demeanor struck hard. I can never tell how much of her is machine, and how much is still human. I wrapped both my hands around hers.
“We’re going to find him. I promise.” I had no way to guarantee it, but I had to say it. Erica smiled and leaned her head into my chest in a snug embrace. It felt so good to hold her close, and I was prepared to do anything to help her. Machine or not, she deserved to see justice, and Chuck still needed to pay.
Janine allowed us to stay the night, and for that I was incredibly grateful. If it weren’t for her hospitality, I don’t know what we would’ve done. I fell asleep with Erica at my side not long after, and awoke to the feeling of sunlight beaming in through the blinds. The aroma of fresh brewed coffee wafted through Janine’s apartment, and the sound of a television echoed quietly in the room.
Erica was no longer at my side, and I sprung up frantic, only to see her seated on the couch beside Janine. Janine jumped as I sprung up, before we both realized things were normal.
“Shit Carl… you always this jumpy in the morning?” Janine asked putting a hand to her chest.
“Sorry… I thought… never mind…” I hauled myself to my feet and winced as my wound stung. Janine took a sip of coffee.
“You guys made the news.” She said. My heart then quivered, and I looked to the TV to see an anchorwoman standing in front of a damaged house. After a moment I recognized the house as the same one we had been at the previous night.
The woman on the TV gave a rundown of the story. Police were swarming the area after receiving calls of a skirmish. They found the bodies of four deceased people; three of the henchmen with the other being the guy in the bathroom. They had two of the henchmen in custody, but reports of another who escaped.
Police were calling it a botched organ harvesting operation, and my jaw nearly struck the floor as the woman who we found tied-up the previous night gave her testimony. She then told her story how she thought they were all going to die; and surely would have were it not for three strangers who intervened. Janine just laughed.
“I thought you were just high as shit last night when you told me that story, but I guess you are as dumb as you look, but you’re not crazy.”
“Holy shit…” I then noticed Hal still dozing in front of the TV, with the blue-haired girl in her same position right beside him.
“Hal… Hal wake up.” I threw paper towel roll at him and it bounced off his scalp causing him to squirm.
“Mm… ah what? What time is it?” He asked groggily.
“Who cares? Just wake up.” Hal grunted and rolled onto his back, his lethargic gaze meeting the TV screen.
“What show is this?” He asked.
“It’s not a show.” I replied. Hal then seemed to understand, and immediately sprung upward, his eyes growing wide. The woman on the TV then concluded the story.
“Police are on the lookout for three persons of interest who the family claims are responsible for their liberation. If you know the whereabouts of these people then please contact your local authorities immediately.” The scene then switched to show police sketches that were undeniably of me, Erica and Hal.
“Damn… they actually did a pretty good job on those drawings. They look just like us.” Hal commented and I had to step away. Panic began constricting around my chest like the coils of a python.
“No no no no no no, this is bad. This is so bad.” I muttered.
“Yeah, looks like I’m harboring fugitives now; because that’s really what I wanted to do on my day off.” Janine grumbled, obviously sarcastic as she rose and approached her kitchen.
“I’m sorry Janine… I… it all happened so fast I just… I didn’t mean to get you involved we just didn’t have anywhere else…” Janine stopped me by putting a hand on my shoulder.
“If what you told me is true about what those bastards did to these girls, then you did the right thing.” I looked at her, confused why I wasn’t being scolded.
“I did?” Janine nodded.
“Yeah, you didn’t do it well… obviously, but at least you tried. That was very brave.” She patted my shoulder and then slapped my ass, causing a stinging pain to surge through my body. I winced and Janine seized me by the collar.
“But if you ever get me involved with something like this again then you’re gonna have to glue your ass back together.” She walked back over to the kitchen and Erica looked on in concern.
“The heretics are most depraved indeed.” She commented.
“You should just call the cops; you don’t deserve to get in trouble for this.” I called out to Janine. She cocked a brow at me.
“I ain’t no damn snitch. Soon as you leave, I’ll call em and tell em you went in the opposite direction. They’ll never know the difference.” She gave me a wink, and I nodded back.
“Thank you, Janine, I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you.” She shrugged.
“Take those bastards down, that’s a good start.”
“Oh yeah dude I forgot to tell you.” Hal suddenly interjected and pulled something from his pocket. He slapped a couple of papers down on the table and I leaned in to get a better look. I didn’t understand what I was looking, but Hal quickly explained.
“I think Chuck dropped these when he was running away shitting his pants. Got coordinates, a meetup location, a warehouse and this…” He then flicked a piece of blue paper in my face. It looked like schematics of a female woman; all skeletonized and interlaced with countless notes and symbols.
“Is this… for her?” I pointed to the blue-haired girl still unconscious, face down on the floor. Hal nodded.
“Yeah, I think I managed to reset her programming. Meaning in theory… she shouldn’t try to kill us when we turn her back on.” Hal replied.
“In theory?” I asked.
“Yeah, in case you haven’t noticed I’ve just been kinda winging it until now. But hey… it’s worked out so far.” I shot him a scowl.
“Yeah, I mean hey we just murdered like three people last night but other than that we’re good right?” I asked. Hal just shrugged as if decapitating people wasn’t that big a deal to him.
“Four people actually.” Janine clarified, causing me to pantomime a sarcastic thankful gesture back to her.
“Well we’re still alive, and those guys were douchebags anyway.” I guess he had a point there. I looked back to the blue-haired girl.
“So how do we turn her back on?” Hal looked over to Janine.
“Got any jumper cables?”
I can’t imagine what must’ve been going through the neighbor’s head’s when they saw us outside. Here they were, just probably enjoying the nice sunny morning when they saw a blue-haired girl dressed as a schoolgirl with us clamping jumper cables onto her breasts like some deranged sexual deviants.
The elderly man and woman just stared at us as Hal fired up his Lincoln. I wanted to say something to assuage their clear worries, but I think I just made things worse.
“Coffee just doesn’t do it for us anymore, y’know?” The old man just looked at me disgusted, and the woman appeared clearly worried. They said nothing, but picked up their pace to get away from us as quickly as possible. Can’t say I blame them for that honestly.
“Well here goes probably the stupidest idea ever…” I said, grabbing the ends of the jumper cables. I touched the red onto her umm… right bosom and Hal stood ready with her remote.
“You sure this is the right area?” I asked, referring to the depraved act I was about to perform. Hal just nodded, and I sighed; bringing the black clamp onto her other breast.
The moment the metal made contact, she lurched awake. Her eyes sprang open and her body fluttered and contorted like some kind of funky dance routine. She then knocked the clamps away and jumped to her feet, seizing me by the throat. Erica unsheathed her blade, and prepared to strike as the girl’s hand constricted around my neck.
“No wait!” Hal screamed pressing a button as Erica hesitated. The girl’s eyes then flickered, and her anaconda grip lessened. She then gasped, her eyes darting around. A wide smile then grew on her face as she looked into my eyes.
“Senpai!” She yelled, suddenly jumping onto my torso and wrapping her arms and legs around me. The sudden weight caused me to falter on my feet and fall onto my back. Erica then pressed her blade across the blue-haired girl’s throat.
“Unhand him you vile wench!” She yelled, a look of what almost seemed like jealousy in her eye. The blue-haired girl let out a whimper of fear and quickly released me from her grip. I jumped back to my feet, and the blue-haired girl hid behind me from Erica.
“Eek… Senpai… watashi oh mamatay.” The blue-haired girl pleaded. Once again, I saw the same old man from earlier at the other end of the parking lot staring at me with a disgusted look. I just gave an awkward smile and waved to him, and he just shook his head.
“Erica it’s okay… she’s just scared.” Erica’s eyes stayed ablaze, but her guard dropped a moment later and she sheathed her katana. I didn’t really know what to do, but clearly the best thing was for us to just get out of there.
The blue-haired girl clung to me like a sloth to a tree all the way up until we started to leave. I elected to drive so Hal could continue working on her, and Erica sat shotgun and helped me with my dialysis.
After driving awhile Hal finally managed to convert her language settings into English. We found out then that her name was Kurumu, and she- like Erica remembered very little of what had happened to her.
She said she was sorry for trying to kill us earlier, and seemed sincere about it. Erica didn’t look too impressed, but I felt genuine sorrow for Kurumu as well. I didn’t know what the hell we were going to do, but I did know that we now had another reason to find Chuck Hagerman and put an end to his depraved antics.
The documents that Hal had found pointed to a meeting place that Chuck presumably was going to be at. It was slated for the following evening, and it was half-way across the country. After we had interrupted his work the previous night, we didn’t know whether he’d have the nerve to show up there, but we had nothing else to go off.
The rest of that day was spent on the weirdest road trip I’d ever imagined. If you would’ve told me a week before this that one day, I’d be a national fugitive on the lamb with two ass-kicking sex robots and my best friend Hal, then I’d have asked what drugs you were on and where I could get some.
All the things I had imagined for my own life had suddenly evaporated, but I think it also taught me an interesting and kind of stupid lesson. You can plan all you want for how your life is going to be, but when destiny comes knocking, you answer that call. We had to end it, one way or another.
We finally arrived at the city where the deal was supposed to go down well into the wee hours of the morning. Kurumu and Hal were both passed out in the backseat, and Erica – ever the faithful companion remained on full alert beside me. I pulled into some dimly lit parking lot, hearing the sounds of several crackheads arguing on the far-end of the lot. It seemed the perfect place to hide out and finally get some sleep.
I killed the headlights, and glanced to Erica in the passenger seat.
“Have we arrived?” She asked.
“Well, we’re close, but the actual thing is still a little ways away. We got the whole day before it is supposed to happen.” Erica nodded, and stared into my eyes.
“How is your buttocks feeling?” She asked. I shrugged, still soar but learning to cope.
“it’s fine…” I replied staring out into the dismal streets around us. A moment of silence swirled between us, and my eyes eventually drifted back to her. She looked crestfallen, with her lower lip trembling ever so slightly. It looked like she was trying to cry, but just couldn’t.
“Are you okay, Erica?” She lowered her head, hiding her face behind her crimson locks as she sighed deep.
“I feel a great deal of remorse for what I have done to you. This heresy arose by my own hand. It’s all my fault…” She whimpered, and my heart broke for her.
“Erica…” I reached out and clasped her hand. She sniffled, and seemed too ashamed to look at me.
“We’ve all made mistakes, and this not your fault.” She looked to me, her verdant eyes seeming to sparkle.
“But it is my lord! A piece of you has been lost because of me.” She appeared truly devastated, but in all honesty, by kidney was no longer my main concern. I mean sure, it’d be nice to have it back, but there were more important things at stake.
“A piece of me has been gained though, my heart… because of you.” Yeah, I know it was probably the cheesiest pickup line I’ve ever heard too, but Erica seemed endeared by it. I clutched my other hand around hers and stared deep into her eyes.
“This is my battle to fight too.” She leaned into me, and we shared a long embrace. So long as a matter of fact that by the time it ended I found myself waking up with a crick in my back from falling asleep in the same awkward position.
Sunlight finally pierced my eyelids some time later, but I’m not even sure how much sleep I actually got. My mind was accosted by all sorts of anxieties and harrowing questions.
What if we die?
Will I go to prison for the rest of my life even if we don’t?
What will my parents think when they find out?
What is the point of having silent letters in words?
And most importantly, what was Chuck really up to?
After our previous encounter, that question weighed the heaviest on my mind. I thought he was just some incredibly talented and equally deranged robotics engineer, but clearly there was more at play. The fact he had five henchmen with him led me to believe his operation went well beyond just organ theft. I mean sure, I’ll bet a kidney is worth quite a lot on the black market, but it seemed like that was only the beginning.
Hal managed to discover that the man’s home that Chuck had been at that night was not only a well-known executive, but also a Brazilian senator. That home was apparently just his summer vacation home.
If Chuck was really only after organs he could’ve just kept going after average Joes like me. Local news would’ve run a story on another victim of organ theft, and that would’ve pretty much been the end of it. Why target a high-profile person like that senator?
We spent that day preparing as much as possible; which truth be told didn’t involve as much as we would’ve liked. We wanted to buy guns, but we knew if either Hal or I tried to access our bank accounts then the cops would trace us really quick.
In the end we settled on a local junkyard. The owner was a pudgy man with a stained Nascar t-shirt that was too small and a wad of tobacco in his lip. He didn’t want to let us in at first, but Kurumu managed to butter him up by flashing puppy-dog eyes. The rotund man blushed and his grumpy demeanor lessened as he finally agreed to let us in.
We tried rounding up as many useful materials as we could find. Erica sharpened her blade, while Kurumu constructed several shurikens out of jagged scrap metal. Hal and I tried our hand at assembling some kind of armor, but realized pretty quick that neither of us were really cut out for this line of work.
Luckily Erica showed us a few nifty little tricks which I’ll describe later. Her craftsmanship and MacGyver-esque spirit was truly something to behold. Once again, the thought struck me of how she was able to do the things she did. Did she know them before she became Chuck’s little experiment, or did he specifically program her with the knowledge? And if so, why the hell would he program a sex robot with the ability to manufacture guerilla weaponry? Either he was obsessively dedicated to creating authentic personality types, or there was an entirely different explanation to all this.
Evening finally came, and our ragtag group filed in to Hal’s Lincoln and drove to the specified location. We didn’t even know whether Chuck would bother showing up there, but we had nothing else to go off and time was running out.
My gut churned like I had just eaten a Taco Bell buffet, and I couldn’t stop tapping my foot as we drove out to the location. If it’s not clear by now I guess I have to reiterate; I’m no fighter. I’ve never been a big guy, nor do I have any training in self-defense, let alone taking on international organ smugglers. I don’t think our local community college has a class on that.
Hal continued sifting through his phone and notes he had made while Kurumu drove quietly onward. I thought it was questionable whether to have her drive at all, but Hal seemed fine with it. We couldn’t even convince her to change out of her schoolgirl uniform. The sweats and hoodie we offered in exchange to help mask her appearance were quickly rejected; as Kurumu claimed they were ‘not kawaii’. She refused to reconsider and so we ended up just dropping the topic.
Clearly, we were underprepared, ill-equipped and some might even say entirely incompetent. It’s not like we weren’t aware of this fact, but we were well aware that if we didn’t stop it, no one else would.
The warehouse specified in Chuck’s stolen notes stood desolate and seemingly unoccupied. It was run down and swamped in foliage which protruded from cracks in the walls and foundations. Broken glass and various spackles of graffiti covered the exterior, and clearly the building had not been in use for many years.
It seemed the perfect place for a shady individual like Chuck to meet his equally shady contacts, but there appeared to be no one there. Hal parked his Lincoln behind an old storage container, and the four of us spread out to put our operation into motion. Hal and Kurumu snuck around the back to try and find a way inside, while Erica and I hid behind some bushes.
“Is something the matter, my lord?” Erica asked as I shivered from behind the skeletal bushes. The cold wind was like needles on my skin, but that wasn’t the only reason I was shaking like a leaf.
“Ah… it’s just cold.” I replied, trying to reassure her; there was no fooling her though.
“The eve of battle is a worrying time, my lord. It is only natural to feel anticipation.” I eyed her skeptically.
“Pshh… I’m not scared.” Neither Erica nor I myself bought my claim.
“Okay fine, I’m fucking terrified. I’ve never done anything like this before.” I admitted, unable to lie to her. Her green eyes seemed almost to glisten in the night, as the wind blew her crimson locks gently about.
“You are very brave for accepting this mission on my behalf, and I will protect you to my final breath.” I shook my head.
“I don’t want it to come to that. I want you to live, especially…” I trailed off, mulling over how to formulate the words as delicately as possible.
“Especially after what you’ve been through already, you deserve to live free.” Erica smiled.
“I already live free my lord. It is not the circumstance to which I was born into, nor the struggles I have faced which defines me, It is I who define myself, by the things I choose to do, and the people I choose to serve.” She then shifted closer to me, staring into my eyes.
“And I choose to be at your side; now and forevermore.” She leaned in and kissed me on the cheek. I was blown away by her response, but still my gut was churning.
“What if we die?” I asked. Erica turned, and like some effervescent, Valkyrie queen from the heavens, she solidified her badass persona with seven simple words.
“Then it will be a glorious death.”
Headlights approached in the distance, turning onto the neglected road which led out to where we had stationed ourselves. The vehicle drove onward, eventually turning to reveal itself as a blacked-out suburban. Typical, I thought chuckling under my breath, but the stereotypic display wouldn’t last.
The suburban closed in eventually parking in the far-end of the lot and killing it’s headlights. The vehicle just sat there, and I was unable to make out who was inside. Finally, after a few minutes the rear-left door opened. Out stepped a man dressed in camo, holding a large rifle. He lit a smoke and exhaled a cloud which was immediately abducted by the wind. The door on the other side opened a moment later, and another man stepped out dressed in matching attire.
My phone buzzed, and I peeked at it to see a text from Hal.
“They look like Army guys. What’s the plan?” He plucked the thought right out of my brain.
“Stay hidden, wait for Chuck.” I texted back, contemplating what the sight entailed. Hal was right; the guys did look like they were from the US Army or some other military branch. But what the hell was the military doing out there? Was it a sting operation they had set up?
I don’t know if the military even does sting operations, or if that’s more of an FBI thing. I suppose they could have been mercenaries or hired goons, but the uniforms threw me off. I expected tattooed bald dudes with beer guts and dark suits along with some Russian dude named Yuri calling the shots, but clearly that wasn’t the case.
We waited there for at least twenty more minutes, before another pair of headlights emerged down the road. It drove the same path as the Suburban before it, and as it entered the same patch of moonlight; I recognized Chuck’s van.
“It is the one we seek.” Erica began to move; clutching her blade, but I grabbed her arm.
“Wait… I want to see this.” Erica hesitated, and slumped back down beside me. The van parked adjacent to the suburban, and killed it’s headlights. The two men outside with assault rifles tensed up, and the driver door of the suburban stepped out. He wore a black suit and gloves, sporting a balled head and clean-shaven face. The van door then opened, and out stepped a familiar and hated face.
Chuck. Fucking. Hagerman. He rounded the van, and approached the man in the suit.
“You’re late.” The man in the suit said in a voice devoid of emotion and expected Russian accent. He sounded more midwestern than anything.
“Apologies, we had an… incident but it has been taken care of.” Chuck replied, clutching something underneath his arm.
“I hope it wasn’t anything serious.” The man in the suit said, glancing at the guards beside him. “Do you have it?” He asked sternly. Chuck nodded.
“Yes, yes of course. Not like I’m gonna come all the way out here to waste you gentleman’s time. That’s a good way to get wacked, amirite?” Chuck was clearly trying to lessen the mood with his cheesy, salesman routine, but the man in the suit didn’t look impressed.
“There’s still time for that.” He responded, and Chuck looked like he had just shat a cinderblock.
“Right, well as promised I have the models here that you requested.” Chuck beckoned them to follow him, and the group ventured to the back of the van. I couldn’t see what was going on, and was about to text Hal and ask since he had a better vantage point, but he beat me to it.
“Dude there’s more of them.” His text read.
“What do you mean? More goons?” I replied. Erica looked like a jaguar eyeing a field mouse from her crouched position. I could tell she was chomping at the bit to engage them, but still stood firm. My phone buzzed again.
“No… more dolls.” I don’t know why I didn’t see that coming, but it was still a surprise. How many of those damn dolls did that psychopath Chuck make?
“They are totally obedient, following every order without question.” Chuck declared, waltzing from behind the van with the other men. My phone buzzed once more.
“He stole that line from Attack of the Clones.” I just shook my head.
“Hal. Focus.” I replied, shoving my phone back in my pocket. Chuck walked out accompanied by two gorgeous women dressed in scantily clad attire. There was a black girl dressed in leather pants and a crop top, while the other was a Latina girl wearing low-cut jean shorts, cowboy boots and a corduroy, collared shirt.
“These are our newest models. I think you’ll find them quite impressive.” Chuck pulled out a remote and hit something on the screen. The black girl’s eyes flickered, and she took a step. Her eyes focused on one of the men dressed in camo, and she began seductively strolling towards him. Her hand raised with an illustrious motion and her fingers danced around his neck. The man’s face lit up in a perverse smile.
“They are programmed with state-of-the-art sensual features, but also…” Chuck pressed another button. The girl’s eyes then flickered, and in one swift motion she pulled the man into a headlock, flipped him over her thigh and flat on his back. The man struck with a groan, and tried to fight back but the girl held a dagger against his throat before he could move. The man shuttered and lifted his quivering hands in surrender. The man in the suit just grinned.
“Impressive.” He commented as Chuck commanded the girl to release the man. The man in camo stood back up and dusted himself off as his comrades chuckled at him.
“And they can be operated remotely?” The man in the suit asked and Chuck nodded.
“From up to one-thousand clicks away.” That may have been the most interesting claim he’d made thus far. I couldn’t help but wonder why someone would possibly need to be able to operate a sex robot from over one thousand miles away. I mean, maybe remote viewing or voyeurism of some kind, but it just seemed like an unnecessarily expensive feature, but as I looked at the strange ensemble of Chuck’s friends, I was struck by an epiphany. Maybe Erica, Kurumu and the others were more than advertised.
The girl strolled back to Chuck’s side; like a noble and obedient hound. I couldn’t decide what to do. I tried devising a plan of catching them all of guard, but there were too many. Before either I or Erica could act, a commotion caught our attention from the far side.
“Die perverts!” Like some methed-out tiger there was Kurumu, leaping from the shadows and soaring through the air like some Jackie Chan prodigy. In one fluid motion she flung a shuriken out with tremendous speed, burying it deep into one of the goons faces. The man gurgled and fell dead a moment later as the others opened fire. Kurumu ducked, and dove behind an old truck, and I realized I had to do something.
Before I could even act, Erica stood and shouted.
“For the glory of the one true god!” Her voice rose to a clamorous warlord, and she charged at the men. They turned to her, but before they could fire, she was on them like a piranha on a wounded calf. She reached the first man, slicing both his arms at the wrist as I rose to charge out.
The man screamed in agony but was silenced by Erica shoving her blade right through his throat. She then hunched her back against the man’s mutilated corpse; using it as a makeshift shield as his compatriots riddled his body with a surge of bullets.
I saw Chuck panic and scurry away yelling out a command to his Amazon warriors.
“Kill them.” The two other girls sprang into action, with one tackling Erica while the other darted towards where Kurumu had hidden. A brick then came soaring through the air and nailed one of the henchmen on the head as he was reloading. He groaned and clutched his face as Hal came charging out of the darkness screaming like a banshee. I think it was meant to be a war cry, but it sounded more like he had reached puberty and orgasmed simultaneously. The iron bucket on his head didn’t help his case much either.
He reached the wounded henchmen and tried punching, but the goon caught his fist. He flipped Hal around, punching him twice in the face and once in the gut before tossing Hal onto the ground. Hal groaned and spat out blood as the man moved to finish him off.
Before he could I dove onto his shoulder, causing him to waver and fumble around. He tried freeing himself, and soon tossed me free. Hal had since regained his footing and swung a metal pipe towards the man. The man ducked and instead Hal’s swing struck me in the shoulder.
I crumpled in pain, and the man kicked Hal in the groin, causing him to crumple as well. Once again, the two of us were outmatched by a single opponent, but before he could land a killing blow on either of us, he was set open by a wild Kurumu.
She slammed the man into the side of the suburban burying his face through the window. Another man rounded the back of the Suburban, but before he could fire Kurumu had flung a shuriken into his hand. The man screamed and fell backwards squeezing the trigger and causing a barrage of bullets to fly aimlessly out into the night sky.
As I regained my footing, I saw the Latina doll in the distance hogtied and squirming in the dirt after her failed battle with Kurumu. Kurumu was a monster, and before I could even regain my footing, I saw her slam the goon’s face into another window on the suburban. By that point his face looked more like a pancake made of glass.
Kurumu’s eyes were ablaze with the madness of the old gods, and she swiftly set upon the man she wounded previously. He screamed and tried crawling away, but Kurumu showed no mercy. She laughed manically as she grabbed the man around the neck and began pulling at it. In seconds I heard the man’s pained shrieks mix with a cacophony of wretched snaps and gurgles before Kurumu tore the man’s head clean off his shoulders.
Meanwhile I saw Erica facing off with the black girl in front of the vehicles, and Chuck diving into his van. I knew then I had to stop him and so I charged towards him with reckless intent. As his van’s tires screeched and flung rocks up around the vicinity, I grabbed onto the side door handle.
The van charged forward, with me clinging onto the side for dear life. Chuck’s eyes were wide with terror as I somehow managed to haul myself up his passenger side. The door then swung open, and Chuck swerved to try and lose me. I hung on for dear life as my back scraped against the abrasive gravel road.
With all the strength I possessed I just barely managed to pull myself up inside his van. Chuck tried punching me, but clearly his fighting skill was matched only by my own incompetence. I caught his fist and tugged him away from the driver seat. The van swerved wildly, and I felt it tip up on two wheels, before tumbling sideways.
The next moment consisted on what I can only imagine of what it feels like to be inside a blender. I was accosted by all manner of debris; glass, pencils, coins and whatever other frivolous items Chuck kept in his cabin. The van tumbled side over side before finally falling still in a shattered husk of it’s former glory.
I lay there dazed and in pain, as my mind attempted to reel itself back in. I looked up and realized the van was upside down. Chuck was hanging inverted from the driver seat; his seatbelt keeping him tethered to what had now become the roof.
I felt a sharp stinging radiate all over my body, but the adrenaline fueled me to click his seatbelt release. Chuck came crashing down onto the inverted roof like a sack of potatoes; groaning as he struck. I hauled myself towards him, mounting on top as he looked at me with dazed eyes. I punched him in the face.
“Kidney… now.” I mumbled between labored breaths. Chuck appeared on the verge of unconsciousness. He didn’t respond, and I took a moment to catch my breath.
Behind me I heard a sudden commotion and turned to see the suburban rocketing towards the road out. It swerved wildly before slamming into a telephone pole and stopping dead in it’s tracks. A person was then jettisoned through the windshield, screaming before landing in a heap several dozen feet ahead of the wrecked vehicle.
I crawled out towards the wreckage, figuring Chuck was no longer in any condition to flee. I saw Kurumu fall in a heap from the roof, wincing softly as she thudded onto the ground. The rear tire of the suburban had like five shurikens lodged into it, and it looked more like an oversized, used condom by that point.
Erica was still facing off against the black girl, but their conflict ended when Hal arrived and tasered her from behind. The black girl quivered and fell to the dirt unconscious. Erica was panting heavily, and her and I locked eyes in the moment.
A sudden screech then echoed behind us, and the sounds of a boom echoed out. I turned and saw an odd, net-like projectile come hurdling towards the scene. Before anyone could react, I saw the thing coil around Erica like some vile serpent. She fell to the dirt and I rushed to her side, but I was too late; the suburban reached her first.
Two men stepped out and hauled the flailing Erica inside. I screamed and dashed towards them, but was frozen by the sight of the man in the suit. He was holding a pistol aimed directly at my chest. I saw it just in time for him to pull the trigger. A harsh impact thundered into my chest, feeling like a punch from superman direct to the gut. I fell onto my back, seeing Erica screaming as my vision swam around me. I then saw her convulse and fall still as she was hoisted into the depths of the suburban. I could do nothing but watch as they drove away into the night and my vision faded to black.
submitted by zachariusfrost to ComedicNosleep [link] [comments]

2019.12.18 18:38 Klokinator Cryopod Refresh 80 Original Version

Author note: I am posting the part here to demonstrate its original draft. The new version has replaced the old one, where I rewrote the entire middle section.
View it here: https://reddit.com/TheCryopodToHell/comments/8usvvb/cryopod_refresh_80_the_next_generation/
"Whaddya mean Phoebe left?" I stare at the guard in disbelief. "She was here not four minutes ago!"
As usual, people mill around us in the Core. A goblin here, a lady there. The man before me shrugs. "They seemed agitated. I didn't want to bother Miss Berthol- I mean, Miss Hiro. She got in her truck and left. It's standard procedure."
I shake my head and sigh. "Yeah, I know. Christ. I thought she'd go hang out in a corner or something. Now I have to chase her down like a weirdo. Thanks."
"Anytime, Your Majesty."
The soldier nods at me and spares only a passing glance toward Solomon's eerie ghost figure. As he pushes past, the young man seems slightly unnerved. He doesn't look comfortable being in the presence of a Heroic Spirit.
Solomon watches as the soldier walks away. "It's been quite literally thousands of years since someone looked me in the eye. I'm used to staring at people's soul energy, not holding conversations on equal terms with flesh-and-blood beings."
I turn and start walking toward the gate to Tarus II. "How does that work? Staring at, err, 'soul energy,' I mean. When I spoke to you in my mind, I thought we were talking man-to-man."
"Nope. You appeared to me like a shapeless blob of milk floating in the air. The projection you saw was little more than you envisioning my brilliant countenance in reality, rather than your thoughts. The Crown provided you assistance."
After stepping through the portal, I yawn to pop my eardrums. "Neat, I suppose. Do you think Phoebe went to Hero City, or elsewhere? Maybe she and Samantha went out for a picnic."
Solomon groans. "Jason. When women are mad at you, they wish to be left alone, but generally, a picnic is not at the top of their itinerary. They'll probably chat with each other for a while, and that will be the end of it. A few boring, sexless weeks await, and you'll move past your differences."
A moment passes. I sweep my gaze around, and Solomon steps in front of me. "Do you love Phoebe?"
"Of course I do. That's a stupid question."
"And she loves you?"
"Uh. Well, yes. I don't want to use a cheesy word like 'soulmate,' but..."
"Then you have no reason to worry." Solomon grins like a Cheshire cat. "I've had a few million quarrels with women. For one thing, having infinite knowledge means I'm always correct, and they didn't want to admit their arguments were vastly inferior to mine. However, I often learned to say I was wrong to put an end to the quibbling. My life became much simpler as a result."
I force myself not to roll my eyes. "At least you're humble about your intelligence."
"Indeed." The king snaps his fingers. "Can't you use your Wordsmithing to find Phoebe? The sooner you apologize and own up to your mistake, the sooner we can move on to more important matters."
I stare into the distance, but I can't see Phoebe's truck anywhere. "I can use my Locate spell to track her, but after what happened with Hope, I'd rather not. I'll go home and pray she's there. It'll have to do."
"Mmm. The spying thing. Even though I barely know you, I can see your heart was in the right place. I'm sure your copycat will accept your apology."
"You're probably right. I dunno."
The two of us walk and float through the warp-gate to Tarus II and down the steps out past the security perimeter. Once I arrive on the paved road, I stand off to the side and exhale. "Man, something's bothering me about what Hope said. I called us identical, and he immediately insisted we were different. I don't understand how that can be true. I cloned him from myself barely a week ago. I could understand a few minor differences, but he acted like he was born on a different planet."
"Wasn't he?" Solomon rests his hands on his hips. "You made him here in the Labyrinth. You were born on Earth. That seems like a different planet to me."
"I mean, okay, sure, but that's nitpicking. My point is that Hope had all of my memories, my looks, my emotions, everything was identical right up to the moment of his creation. What the hell could change in a week?"
"I don't know," Solomon replies. "Not about him specifically, anyway. A person's world can change in five minutes, though. What experiences do you and he share, and what have the two of you lived differently?"
I ponder Solomon's question.
A minute passes.
"I see your point. He fought Uriel while I stayed behind. I barely know how that went. I'm married to Phoebe... but he has nobody. Now that you mention it, there are a few other differences. I didn't think they were major at first, but maybe you're onto something."
"Of course I am, you dolt. I'm the bloody Knowledge-Seeker. I'm always right." Solomon groans again and spins on his heel. "Haah, look, why don't you try looking at things from his perspective. If he really was you until the moment you created him, but you're the one getting married while he isn't, how would you feel if you watched Phoebe get stripped away by another man? Even if that man were technically you?"
"Well, I'd... I'd feel pretty terrible."
"Precisely. Awful, alone, confused. Hope has to reinvent his entire identity. Why, it would be like stepping from one epoch of humanity's timeline into another! A jarring and unwelcome change of scenery that would force one to adapt. Surely you know what I mean."
"I do. You're referring to the Cryopod."
"Indeed. You told me you were frightened and scared when you first emerged. It's a natural sensation when one arrives at an unknown destination. For example, if a man comes home to his faithful wife and sees her in bed with another, his existence will shatter. In an instant, he will call into question every moment they shared, every secret, and deep inside his heart, he will shift into a different person entirely. For Hope, he shares all of your memories, so I imagine that right as he was growing comfortable in his new life, met a nice girl, became a Hero that saved everyone from demons and monsters... he was suddenly torn out of all of that and told he needed to rebuild again. That's two major blows to his psyche in the span of one year, and you're both barely out of your adolescent phases."
I stare ahead numbly, looking not at Solomon, but through him. "Wow. I never thought of that. I've been a terrible friend."
"Simply dreadful."
"I should have put myself in his shoes and talked to him more."
"Solomon, your snark isn't helping."
"I don't care." The King chuckles to himself about something. "Heh, the first step to solving a problem is to recognize there is one in the first place. Even the wisest sometimes struggle with that."
"Including you?"
This time it's me who groans. "You're so humble. I'm going to make a vehicle. Gimme a sec."
I take a minute to imagine the inner workings of my Ferrari. Its contours, the engine. Before I finish, Solomon speaks. "Hold on. What are you imagining?"
"A car. I have a Ferrari I like to drive."
"Yes. I can see your imagination. But a vehicle that drives on wheels will be significantly slower and more dangerous than a hovercraft or even a spaceship. Here, let me assist you."
Solomon closes his eyes. A moment later, his mouth opens.
Solomon speaks a series of unintelligible, screechy sounds that nearly make me yank the Crown off my head. Whatever he's saying, they aren't words. Even the Crown can't translate them for me.
He opens his eyes. "There. I've loaded up a basic template for a miniature spacecraft. With this, you can house a crew of up to four people comfortably."
The image appears in my mind. The ship looks like something from a sci-fi movie, with a sleek silver hull, a pointed nose, an engine on each wing, and a hyperdrive in the back.
"Why the gold lining and baubles? Why did you design this ship with all these rubies and gems all over the hull? I don't understand Bedazzling the exterior of a spaceship."
Solomon scoffs. "You're the bloody Hero! You need to travel in style! People respect and fawn over those who cover themselves in riches and jewelry. It's only natural for the almighty Hero to make people stop and stare when he flies past."
"I think you're going a little too far."
"Psh. I knew you'd complain. I resisted the urge to make the entire exterior solid-gold, but you still whine like a billy goat."
"I'm not whining."
Solomon rolls his eyes. He flaps his hands at me and says in a mocking voice, "I'm not whining."
I sigh. "Solomon... I don't know if anyone has ever told you this before... but you're an asshole sometimes."
"Hmm. I need to try harder. It's supposed to be constant."
"At least you don't deny it."
I aim my mind at an empty area of the road and speak aloud. "Ship."
Within five seconds, the spacecraft materializes and gently plunks onto the asphalt. It's much bigger in person compared to my mind, standing twenty feet tall, thirty feet wide, and about eighty-feet long. Considering all of the internal mechanisms, it's probably significantly smaller inside.
The entry platform lowers. I walk over to it and grumble to myself about the stupid rhinestones, rubies, and gems embedded all over the side of the craft. A Bedazzled spacecraft is the opposite of badass.
Solomon follows me. Once inside, I gaze around and take in the sights. It's much roomier than I expected, with a single unbroken hallway all the way to the beds and room in the back, bathrooms in the middle, and an open dining area along the way. I expected something akin to a large RV, but it's more like a small house.
I make my way to the cockpit and sit down. Thanks to the Crown, I know what every button, knob, and dial does, but it still feels very... alien.
Solomon sits in the co-pilot seat. "We should give this beautiful lady a name."
"Like what?"
"Oh, I don't know. Something extravagant and mysterious, exuding warmth and wealth."
"None of those adjectives belong in the same sentence."
"Bloody hell, not this again. Always with the complaining..." Solomon trails off. "Ah, I've got it! How about Esther?"
"You want me to name the ship... Esther?"
"Sure! It's a beautiful name! Esther was one of only two women to have an entire book of the Holy Bible devoted to to them. Have you ever read the Bible?"
"A bit. Only if one of my foster families dragged me to church. I'm more into ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. The Bible didn't do it for me."
Solomon purses his lips. "So that's how it is, eh?"
"I read about you!"
That satisfies him. "Good. My appearance is the most important part of the entire Bible."
"Okay, now you've gone too far. You're not more important than Jesus."
"Sure I am."
"It's true."
"Yeah, okay. If you say so."
I turn away from him and activate the ship's thrusters. Several button presses later, it begins to rise into the sky. A sensation of disorientation hits me as we ascend. The gradual climb is so smooth that looking through the windows outside is more like watching a television screen. I don't feel the movement at all.
Solomon reads my mind. "Inertia dampeners."
By the time Esther has hovered a hundred feet up, my eyes raise to the stars above.
Solomon leans back in his chair. "Let's take a detour, Jason."
I've spent months using my new powers, and never once did I consider venturing into space. Now that I'm here, I can't believe myself. I was an idiot. Thousands, millions, perhaps billions of specks of light dot the sky. Far in the distance, Tarus II's sun, Vorus, burns radiantly. Its light would usually damage my eyes, but thanks to ultraviolet shielding on Esther's front window, it doesn't.
Two small moons orbit Tarus II. Esther highlights several points of interest in the space around our planet, including a comet and an asteroid caught in orbit.
Solomon rubs his hands together. "Breathtaking, isn't it? I remember my first time leaving Earth's atmosphere. I saw the videos of astronauts and the Moon Landing, but entering space is different compared to watching videos or looking at images."
"Yeah. It's something else. Takes my breath away."
"The Volgrim and the Demons own much, if not all of the galaxy by now. The stars we see are only those nearest us within a thousand light-years or so. I would be surprised if any of them were free of the reach of our enemies."
I slump in my seat. "A hundred thousand years is a long time... but surely there must be some planets they haven't defiled yet? Is it even possible to colonize millions of planets in only tens of thousands of years?"
"It is," Solomon murmurs. "The Volgrim were initially a picky species until they discovered humanity. They slowly searched for a homeworld to replace theirs and settled on Earth. However, due to the scale of the Energy Wars, they began to colonize anything remotely habitable, as did we. A galaxy-wide conquest ensued, with each side desperately trying to outlast the other."
"But we lost?"
Solomon clears his throat. "The vast majority of planets are so inhospitable to organic life that the Volgrim would mark them off without hesitation. Those in the Goldilocks zone that approach a 40% confidence rating for habitability are the ones the Volgrim typically targeted. Anything below that threshold would suffer from major issues, like lakes of acid, incredible volcanic instability, scorching heat or sub-zero temperatures, and so on."
"I believe there might be a few thousand planets meeting favorable criteria in our galaxy," Solomon says, finishing off his explanation.
"They scraped the plate clean, I suppose."
"Sure. That's a decent metaphor." Solomon gestures toward Tarus II. "Let's head back. I thought taking a short break from all that emotion to see a purer form of the universe would do you some good. It seems I was right. Sadly, duty calls."
Instead of turning the ship back toward Tarus II, I stare at the object orbiting the planet. "Hey, silly question, but how hospitable would you say Kelkin is? Tarus's moon, I mean."
Solomon shrugs. "It's probably a zero-percent Goldilocks moon. While technically colonizable, it isn't self-sustaining. Since it has no atmosphere and it's a methane-ice world, it would take a lot of work to terraform."
"Right..." I mutter. "But, I have Wordsmithing. The Volgrim and Demons don't."
Solomon stares at me for a moment, then turns to gaze at Kelkin. "Oh. That's an interesting idea. You're smarter than I expected, Jason Hiro."
"Your compliments feel like insults."
"Sorry, not sorry."
I turn the ship around and head back down to Tarus's surface, but a smile spreads across my face. "That's the trick, Solomon. The Volgrim can't create atmospheres, and they have a limit to their terraforming. I don't."
The king thumbs behind us toward the moon. "Why not try colonizing that one now? Can't hurt to try."
"Actually, it can. I can barely create a few buildings without going into a coma. I'll need a massive scale upward in my energy limit if I expect to terraform an entire planet. If only I could figure out how to increase my limit... then there wouldn't be a problem."
The atmosphere of Tarus burns around the ship as we begin our rapid descent. Solomon rubs his chin thoughtfully. "I never experimented with my magic. I was lucky to be born during a time of relative peace. There was a skirmish against the demons here and there occasionally, but I never needed to exercise my heroic powers on the field of battle."
"Oh? What were your abilities?"
Both of us gaze out at the long reach of a massive ocean as we fly lower and lower into the planet's atmosphere. "I don't know. My attributes leaned heavily toward intellect, rather than strength and magic. I think I possessed some ability to conjure holy energy, but I never used it in my day to day life."
"I guess you didn't need to. You know, being a king and all."
"Mmm." Solomon turns his head to look at me. "Say, Jason... something has been bothering me for a while. Regarding your status as a Hero, that is."
"Like what?"
We quickly fly past the ocean and over the mountaintops. Hero city, built on a plateau, grows visible in the distance.
"Heroes typically were men and women of great influence. The Aura sought out those most likely to use their abilities for the greater good of the angels and gods. Commoners rarely gained such power. This begs the question of why it would possess you. After all, you are a relatively normal youth. Were your parents wealthy or famous?"
I shake my head. "I don't remember them. I know my mother died before my second birthday. My father gave me up for adoption."
"He did? Strange." Solomon shakes his head. "Do you remember who he was?"
"No. The little I know is because of a few official documents I used to travel with between foster homes. As far as I'm concerned, my parents both died when I was a child."
My answer seems to satisfy Solomon, and he gazes at the specter of Hero City as we fly closer. While I bring the ship down to land in an empty field, the king nods slowly. "So you didn't know your parents, and you have the Heroic Spirit. Perhaps they knew of your importance. They might have been wealthy aristocrats or descendants of a royal bloodline. That would explain your abilities."
"I suppose that's possible. They didn't leave me any money though, so I don't think they were wealthy. You might be grasping at straws. Didn't you imply the Heroic Aura sometimes possesses those not born from an important bloodline?"
"I did, but a circumstance like that was scarce. Only two or three cases that I know of."
The ship touches down a hundred feet from the city's perimeter. Dozens of curious onlookers peep out from behind a building. They must have seen Esther's arrival, and now they're worried we might be enemies.
Solomon chews on his thumb. "You know, Jason... the last time a Hero appeared was around the beginning of the 20th century. I always wondered what happened to them."
"That does sound strange," I say, noncommittally. "I don't know anything about the past Heroes, though. Well, other than Joan and Arthur."
"Those are the ones everyone's heard of, along with me," Solomon says with a wink. He and I both stand up and walk toward the exit hatch. The ramp extends down, and when the crowd of onlookers sees us, a collective sigh of relief fills the air.
A few men, along with one Salamander, wander over. I recognize Ogie immediately.
"Sweet 'n salty walnuts! You scared the stools out of us," the Salamander says. "What in the Sam heck is that flyin' bullet thing?"
"It's a spaceship," I reply, not wanting to go into much detail. I notice several people looking at Solomon questioningly, so I decide to take him down a notch. "This guy is a ghost friend of mine named Solomon. He's nobody important."
The king gawks. "I beg your pardon?!"
"Yeah, you heard me, grandpa. Wave at the townsfolk."
Solomon grumbles something under his breath. I only make out a few choice curses.
Several minutes later, he and I arrive at the front of Bahamut's old palace, or rather, my official home.
The king curls his lip up. "You're slumming it, then?"
"What? This is the best place in the city! Huge rooms, full course meals, all that good stuff."
"The aesthetic is dreadful. It looks like an average-sized office building. Have you no Heroic pride?"
"We went over this already."
"I don't care. It's still shameful. I'm surprised Saul allowed my spiritual descendant to live in such a horrid environment. When I see him next, I'm going to gouge his useless eyes out."
I cringe at his vivid description. "I don't think you need to go that far."
"Yes, but after all the training I gave him, he's making me look bad. Maybe I'll only flay an inch of skin from his body. Even I can be merciful."
I decide not to comment. We enter my home, and every step becomes unbearable as Solomon comments on this drab ornament or that ugly trinket, or how the lighting isn't complimentary. I tune him out within a minute or so.
We make our way upstairs, and eventually, arrive at my bedroom door. When I open it, I catch the tail end of Phoebe speaking. "-his fault. I think he misunderstood. That's all."
"Yes, but it was hurtful. After everything I've done to help the humans, I just... I thought people would treat me differently. They still act like I'm part of a demon conspiracy to kill-"
Samantha stops talking. She turns around to the doorway as Solomon and I enter. I wince at the tears on her face. "Uh... um... bad time? I can come back later..."
She quickly looks away and wipes her face. "It's fine. I should return to my room anyway."
"Wait, hold on." I hold my hand up. "Samantha- I'm sorry. I came all the way here to say that. I overheard Hope saying something, and I jumped the gun. I shouldn't have accused you of anything. That was wrong of me."
The succubus's tail flicks around nervously. Samantha continues to sit on the bed without making any effort to get up, and stares at her crossed legs. "An apology. I don't know why, but I didn't expect that."
Phoebe stares at me. Her face shows anger, but everything else about her appears contemplative, as though she's spent the better part of twenty minutes playing devil's advocate on my behalf to try and explain my actions.
She's too good for me.
"I'm glad you came, Jason. We were talking about you the whole time."
"I, uh, figured as much."
My wife's eyes look to the ghostly figure standing beside me. "You brought a friend?"
Before I can reply, Samantha turns around to look at me, but she registers Solomon as well. She starts to say something, but pauses a moment before speaking. "Do I know you?"
Solomon shakes his head and beams a grin at her. "I'm Solomon. One of the ancient kings, also known as the smartest being in existence. I doubt we've met, for I could never forget one as beautiful as yourself."
His flattery doesn't affect her. "You're right. I'd remember someone as braggadocious as you instantly. You do look familiar, but it's probably the whole royalty getup. I've known a few kings."
Solomon slides over to the bed and sits down, though his body makes no impression on the covers. "I wish I'd been one of them."
"Smooth." Samantha rolls her eyes and turns back to me, forgetting Solomon exists within the span of two seconds. "Jason. I should have told you I was a shapeshifter. I owe you an apology too. I didn't realize that humans would value appearances so much. If it makes you feel any better, this is my natural body. I don't enhance it in the slightest."
I blink. "Wait... I think there's been a misunderstanding... I wasn't worried about you abusing your, um, sex appeal. It was more of an espionage issue."
"How so?"
A bead of sweat drips down my back.
Come on, Jason! You just apologized, and now you're going to imply she's a shapeshifter who wants to infiltrate us for some nefarious purpose?! Talk about ruining the goodwill you just built!!
...No. I have to tell the truth. I have to tell Samantha what I saw. No more lying.
I lean against the wall. "Here's the deal. I used Locate, and overheard Hope and Neil talking. They said that you... that you betrayed Uriel. You killed her or something. I don't know the details. On top of that, you can manipulate the emotions and feelings of those around you, and you can change your appearance. It was wrong of me to jump to conclusions, especially after you saved my life and Phoebe's in our battle against Amelia and Satan. However, surely you can see how combined with not wanting me to see the files about the Volgrim, I might assume you were-"
"You saw the files?" Samantha interrupts me. Her voice turns cold as ice. "After I warned you not to look... you examined them anyway?"
"I did."
Samantha lowers her head. "Jason... you crossed a line you shouldn't have."
"So what if I know about the aliens? What's the big problem?"
Samantha flicks her eyes to Phoebe uneasily. She wants to keep the information about the Volgrim as tight-lipped as possible.
A moment later, she seems to realize I'll tell Phoebe later anyway, so there's no point being secretive.
"The problem is that nobody but the Emperors and Dukes know of the Volgrim's existence. No other demons, no monsters, and certainly no humans... nobody. It's part of our treaty. Due to issues we've had with uprisings in the past, the Volgrim only agreed to a cease-fire under the condition that we keep our arrogant elements in check. The moment word gets out about them and reaches any loose-lipped fellow, their weapons will train on us."
"Alright. I suppose you have a point. I don't really understand, but if that's the case, why let anyone have access to files like we found?"
Samantha pulls on a loose string of hair. "You used that Crown, didn't you? Nobody should be able to decipher the computer files left behind except Ose. She's the one who devised all the systems that keep humans and demons in check. I don't know much about technology, nor do most demons, but she's a genius when it comes to it. Under normal circumstances, nobody I know could decipher those files. You're probably the only person who can."
A slight tinge of pride burns in my heart. Yeah, damn straight! I'm a genius too!
Solomon smirks at me. Keep dreaming, kid.
"Well, Samantha, it's too late now. I saw the files. Oh, and when I did, Ose appeared inside my mind. She tried to take over, but she awakened Solomon instead, and he saved me."
A lightbulb pops up above Phoebe's head. She looks from me to my crown and then to Solomon. "Ahh! Solomon! His crown! He's the man who... oh my gosh!"
Solomon snaps his fingers. "Yes! Now you understand! Tis' I, the most incredible, brilliant, and good-looking man who ever lived! I'm surprised it took you this long to realize!"
Phoebe's surprise melts away instantly. "Oh. You're one of those men."
"What do you mean?"
"Nothing. Never mind."
Solomon might be the most knowledgeable man in existence, but even he doesn't know everything. It's a comforting thought.
Samantha shifts on the bed and turns her whole body toward me. Seeing the front of the voluptuous succubus instantly gets my hormones raging, but I try and suppress them.
"Jason, we both made mistakes. Let's call it even and move on, okay?"
I nod. "That's fair."
In the back of my mind, a nagging concern buzzes like an angry blowfly. Despite my immediate agreement with her words, I pivot on a dime. "Well, one thing. I do have to ask... What happened with Uriel? Can you explain that to me?"
She shrugs. "It was a long time ago. Some people change in a day; some people need a few years. How much would you change if a hundred thousand years passed?"
"A lot, I suppose. I still would like to know what happened, though."
"I did what Satan ordered. Back then, we all did." Samantha grips her leg firmly. A look of unease appears on her face. "It was part of a day in history known as the War in Heaven. Ninety-nine percent of all demons died, as did the majority of all angels. It was a bloodbath unlike any other. My job was to infiltrate and eliminate the forward guard so our forces could enter Heaven. I followed my orders. We made it inside. There isn't much to say otherwise."
"But... you killed Uriel, right?"
Samantha's face turns ashen. "No! I would never do that! I wounded her badly, yes, but I hate killing. I'm a pacifist, Jason. I only fight if it's necessary."
"Sure, but you rushed back to the Labyrinth earlier to battle her as soon as that one Duke guy gave the word."
"He's a Baron, and his name is Orias." Samantha shakes her head in annoyance. "I have obligations to the demons, Jason. More importantly, Uriel is a threat not only to my people but yours as well. She's a dangerous, unhinged lunatic who kills for sport. By the time Hope and I arrived, she had slain nearly a hundred thousand of my people. Would you prefer I let her rampage around unchecked?"
"I suppose not."
"Good." Samantha waves her hand at me flippantly. "Perhaps you should ask Hope what the battle against her was like. He nearly died, after all."
The succubus seethes for a moment. "I wonder why Hope would say bad things about me after we fought together. Perhaps I should speak to him. The two of you are very aggravating sometimes."
Phoebe smiles and rubs Samantha's shoulder. "Yeah, that's men for you. But he's all mine!"
Solomon chuckles. "Heh, nothing like a bit of anger to get the blood pumping and set the truth free. Right, Jason?"
Several minutes later, Samantha stands up and adjusts her clothing. "Well, um, sorry for weeping like a child. I'll be heading to my room now, Phoebe."
Phoebe waggles her fingers in the air. "See you around, Sammy. Drop by anytime!"
"Trust me; I will."
Samantha walks past me as I sit on the bed. She stops a few feet away. "Jason, if you don't keep hold of Phoebe, I'll take her for myself."
She leaves the room and closes the door.
Now only Phoebe, Solomon, and I remain.
My wife glances at the ghostly man sitting beside me on the edge of the bed. "So... how is this going to work?"
"I don't know what you mean."
Her cheeks burn red. "Is Solomon going to follow you everywhere? All the time?"
The king responds before I can think of an answer. "Oh, there won't be any problems. Just pretend I'm not here! I'll stand and watch silently as you two do whatever it is that young newlyweds do!"
Phoebe's expression flattens. "That's not going to happen."
"Why not?"
"I don't like lecherous old men. That's why." Phoebe points at the Crown. "Make sure you take that off, tonight."
"Yeah. I will," I say with a smile. "No way this voyeur's getting a peep show."
Solomon's face turns crestfallen. "B-but Jason! I thought we were friends!! Phoebe is far more beautiful than the fairest lily in the bluest pond! Please, don't take away the only thing this poor old man lives-!"
I lift the crown off my head. Solomon vanishes, leaving Phoebe and me alone.
"Yeah, that sealed the deal."
I set the crown on the dresser beside the bed, then turn to my wife and smile. "A lot of stuff happened today."
"Mhmmm..." Phoebe flops onto her back and traces a circle on her collarbone. "I'm still mad at you for making Sammy cry."
"Aw, c'mon. I apologized!"
"Yes, but you didn't apologize to me."
"I'm sorry."
Phoebe closes her eyes. "Okay. That'll do."
Grinning giddily, I reach for my belt buckle. "Great! Now that we're married, let's get out of these clothes!"
"Somehow I knew that would be the only thing on your mind."
Inwardly, I wince.
Images of two thousand demon heads exploding appear in my mind.
"No... there are others."
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2019.11.14 02:05 ShadowWolf525 Chat_Report.25>2 - XL

[22:12] it's not like I'm going to be offended that someone feels that way [22:12] but it's not healthy to be a dick about it, and that's kind of the only way that I can think to be able to deal with it [22:12] I guess, that's not a bad way to think about it [22:12] if you're having trouble dealing with it [22:12] I guess I just have to accept that I am not an expert on that [22:12] but I do have the most basic understanding of the concept [22:12] and I have always known what a "dissociative" is [22:12] and that they are in fact a distinct psychological state [22:13] I didn't have to google to find out [22:13] and in fact I have been working on a book on dissociative phenomena for a number of years [22:13] you mean you were trying to find out what they were? [22:13] i just finished [22:14] i got the manuscript finished and submitted a copy [22:14] well, the "book" is still on your todo list [22:14] i'm very anxious to publish [22:15] what about the research? are you doing any research on it? [22:15] and yes [22:16] some, but the bulk of my effort is in trying to make sense of it [22:16] what are you doing to help us understand it? [22:16] and i have a blogpost of my own that goes into the background of the phenomenon [22:16] it would be great if you could tell us a little about it [22:16] it sounds as if the phenomenon has something to do with people who have had a life-altering experience [22:17] and that the thing they have experienced is so powerful that it is capable of completely altering a person's personality [22:17] (well, that and the fact that a person who had such an experience could have access to the internet) [22:17] i'm sorry, but why not just tell us about it in full detail, instead of asking me a bunch of question and letting me decide what to ask [22:18] it would be very convenient to you [22:18] if you hadnt decided not to talk about it until after i had. [22:18] if you want to know more, it's quite common for people with this kind of problem to share their stories. [22:18] (i'm not sure if its normal, but i can assure you its not something i wouldn't ever do to any of you) [22:19] so i don't know what you're implying by saying you're uncomfortable with talking about it? [22:19] i'm just saying that i'm not going to force you to talk about it just because you told me it was hard to talk about [22:19] ok. [22:20] so this is it: you must come here with me now [22:20] ok [22:20] and I'll go to the other rooms and meet everyone. [22:20] I want to make this a place for everyone [22:21] ok [22:21] i'll talk to you when i get there [22:21] OK, I need a little more detail [22:22] What's the plan for getting it into the house? [22:22] well i'll let you know when i get there [22:22] Ok, thanks [22:22] i'll be back around 12:30 and ill be there [22:23] I've sent you a PM for the key and I'll be waiting for you to talk to her [22:23] lol [22:23] *key [22:23] ouch [22:24] But that's just me [22:24] You can't just go and do it like that, y'know? [22:24] lol [22:25] but if it's just a matter of asking me nicely, i don't mind [22:25] just send it to me and i'll do it [22:25] if that's what you want [22:25] I've never asked you to do anything but that, and I know you haven't, but, that's my opinion [22:26] I mean, if it helps you out a little bit, maybe I could just... [22:26] Vorpas, that's okay. I mean, I think you're pretty amazing, I do, I do. I just don't know what you want to do with your life. I think I'd like to try and get the people that are in the game to understand the power and the importance of the community. I mean, when you're playing against, when you see a really bad player, you can tell that that player is having fun, that they are having fun playing the game, because they are making a lot of money, and then you can just understand that it would be fun to play, and there would be a lot of money to be made by just playing the game. And I think the players that are playing it, maybe they don't know what's happening, and maybe they have the wrong idea about it. But it's okay, I'm not going to judge them, it's their own opinion and they're free to believe whatever they want to believe. [22:27] But, I'm just gonna leave that part up to you. [22:27] Cool. [22:27] So I'm just gonna be, like, really happy for you, 'cause I know you've been putting a lot of work into this. [22:28] You are doing it so well! [22:28] And I really appreciate that, like, for the last few months, it's been a struggle to stay motivated enough to do this. [22:28] I am a bit concerned about how long this will take. [22:28] I am just going to say this, if I'm going to continue doing this, I want you guys to stay around. [22:29] Well, I would love to keep helping, but I'm not sure what my plans are at the moment. [22:29] If you were to make a donation, that would be fantastic [22:29] You know, the donations are very helpful. I just thought that it might be good to keep track of who donated what. [22:29] Vorpas_Jabwak, I can try to get someone to check if this was indeed you that made the donation? [22:29] Oh, yeah. [22:29] Thanks! [22:29] You've probably never received one before, but if you were, that would be awesome. [22:30] Just wanted to let you know the new version of Mumble is being released and working on the beta channel. [22:31] If you do have the software I'd love to hear some feedback. I have a lot of questions for it. [22:32] I have a lot of questions for it too, but it's a bit complicated so I might not get a chance to do that anytime soon. I'll make sure to get on that when it is ready. [22:33] I'm glad you like it, I know I really do. I love having an easier to use, but powerful, voice chat. [22:34] I'd really like to make some more changes to the system, and try it out as a whole. But right now it's pretty darned good. [22:35] Thanks Jak. :) [22:35] I'll try my best to keep them updated. [22:35] Ok, I'll let you know when I get to them, Jak [22:35] Sorry if I didn't keep up with you guys. [22:36] Haha, sorry. [22:36] I'll see you around, Jak [22:36] *takes off* [22:36] Sup everyone? [22:36] I'm out [22:36] *in [22:37] sup [22:37] Hey! [22:37] So are you guys all there yet? [22:37] :P [22:38] * Turoth sets mode: +b KhaosReigns [22:38] Oh! I thought you all quit on me [22:38] * Turoth sets mode: +b KhaosReigns+ [22:38] So uh, what's my problem? [22:38] I was hoping you'd tell me to stop [22:38] I was so upset [22:38] I'm sorry [22:38] I should have been better [22:39] I didn't mean to startle you [22:39] You've just always made me feel like I could take care of myself [22:39] I guess I didn't realize that it takes a lot of people to keep the lights on [22:40] I'm sorry, I've never been this shy around people [22:40] It's been such a long time [22:41] This whole situation is just a shock [22:41] I'm starting to feel really nervous [22:41] I have to go home now [22:42] Ok [22:42] I'll see you later [22:42] Ohh, bye [22:42] Take care [22:42] Yeah, it's a long way home [22:42] Have a nice night [22:42] Thanks for everything. I had fun. [22:42] night [22:42] I hope you have a good night. [22:42] Have a nice night. [22:42] Thanks. [22:42] Have a good night. [22:42] Good night [22:42] How is everyone? [22:42] I'm fine. [22:42] Tired, but fine. [22:42] Yeah. [22:43] i dont know what happened [22:43] Don't know yet, so I'm trying to get the details. [22:43] I went out to get food [22:43] got a pizza, was eating it when I was interrupted by my girlfriend [22:43] and she was saying she wanted to see me [22:43] i don't even know where i am right now [22:44] so she called me at work this morning and said 'well, i'm sorry i couldn't make it for you today', and i had to tell her 'okay' [22:45] i cant find her or the phone number or anything [22:45] i was just in the car, and she was in the kitchen [22:45] it must of been a while [22:45] i think she was off last night [22:46] that's funny that you would call me like that [22:46] then you should know that she has been off for a while [22:46] she said she was sick, and i think she said she was going to stay home and rest and it wasn't till today that i found out the truth [22:46] yeah it's a real bummer that it was a false alarm [22:46] like i said she could have possibly been sick but wasnt being honest about it [22:46] it is a big bummer that we wasted so much time on it, but it doesn't change that we found her body [22:46] yeah we know how the night went, we just dont know if she was really asleep when the phone rang [22:46] i just wish she would have just told us the truth instead of getting her feelings hurt [22:46] the real question is: why is it a phone? [22:46] that's all i got [22:46] so that's it [22:46] yeah and she's got to go find out if she's pregnant [22:46] and i guess there's no point in trying to hide the pregnancy [22:46] she said it was just a few days ago [22:46] wait what [22:46] maybe her parents are going to find it [22:46] ok [22:46] maybe if her parents find out she's pregnant [22:46] they'll just throw you out [22:46] they will [22:47] why do you think she was crying? [22:47] well, I mean, I know it's weird but [22:47] no, you're right [22:47] I mean, it was pretty strange [22:47] she just seemed, well [22:47] I don't think she could have known the guy or not [22:47] there's been plenty of reports of people getting "paedo" on the site [22:47] so it could have just been that her brain just caught on [22:47] like that one guy who was arrested last year for having a lot of chatroom porn [22:47] which is like a whole different thing [22:48] and it just happened to be in that section that she kept checking [22:48] yeah [22:48] like it's not like she has this huge fucking file of porn on her computer [22:48] so if it happens to be in one place, it's not like she's a big fucking voyeur [22:49] but still, she was watching the entire thing [22:49] yes, and that is probably why the guy stopped her [22:49] I can see your point of view [22:50] and it was also in that section that she just kept checking [22:50] yes, and I can say that she just seemed so interested in the guy that she wouldn't mind if he was watching [22:50] and that's not exactly the case with me either [22:50] but, if she's only interested in other men, then she's obviously gay [22:51] which is just something to remember [22:51] and she's so smart, but I can't see her getting on with me [22:51] she has a crush on me, but I don't even know where to start [22:52] I was at a party in NY, and someone I knew was talking to her, and they had been flirting. I didn't get a chance to respond, but I am a nice guy. She said she didn't want to talk about it any more. I am a nice guy, and I know that flirting is bad, but I also know that I like her and I think that there's a chance that it could go somewhere. I want to have a relationship with her, I don't really know where to start [22:52] you'd have to ask her yourself [22:52] but it seems like you don't have to [22:52] but if that's your only point she can't really say something else... [22:52] i think if you were to say you didn't want to have sex with her, you would lose her... [22:52] i'm not even really interested in that right now [22:53] it just seems like she wants to have sex with you [22:53] and is hoping that you'll say yes [22:53] i guess so... [22:53] but she doesn't seem to be trying to win your votes [22:53] maybe she's just trying to piss you off [22:54] and you don't have the time to argue with her [22:54] the internet is a bitch. [22:54] but i know she's just trying to be funny [22:54] and to make a point [22:54] so why can't i? [22:54] yeah [22:54] what do you mean? [22:54] jalockk: i've never seen a single one of these people [22:54] but i see them every day [22:54] and they say the same shit [22:54] we don't like the idea of them being taken out because they are not the ones we really are against [22:54] well i don't think we need to be very big to do that [22:54] but they are a part of it [22:55] the people that dont like us [22:55] the people that are behind all this [22:55] or just the people [22:55] not the people [22:55] it's the people that don't have an opinion [22:56] we should never let our ignorance define us [22:56] well we're doing it now [22:56] and it's not even funny [22:56] it's just sad [22:56] no it's a serious problem [22:56] it's not funny [22:56] and the truth is sadder [22:56] i don't understand why he hates himself so much [22:56] is it because of the death [22:56] or the lies he told [22:56] that's what im trying to figure out too [22:57] not that there is an obvious answer to why he does what he does [22:57] i think he is a pretty shitty person [22:57] the lies hurt more [22:57] i really really wish i could understand [22:58] that's why i'm here to explain the way out [22:58] if i explain it to you in words [22:58] well i don't know you [22:58] i have to explain it to you in a way that makes sense to you [22:58] in english [22:58] and that's how [22:58] this whole thing starts with a picture of a woman [22:58] holding up a phone with the words "HELLO" on the screen [22:58] it's a picture of me [22:58] It's a pic of me in a hat [22:58] and i'm in the hat [22:58] which isnt me [22:58] i'm the one with the hat [22:59] i wear a hat to hide my face [22:59] and when i say this i don't really say "i'm the hat" [22:59] i say "i'm the hat" [22:59] oh okay [22:59] ok let me get this straight [22:59] if we're talking about the "why" [22:59] what the actual, fucking, fuck [22:59] why did she do it [22:59] the "when" part I'm not clear about [22:59] i'd assume that's the part we're discussing [22:59] ok i'm getting out of this [22:59] but yeah the "what" [22:59] yeah [22:59] and it seems like the "how" [22:59] isnt really a big deal [22:59] i think it is [22:59] the fact that we all agree on what it is [22:59] and are people who say its a big deal really saying it on the op? or is it on the op, and people who say its a big deal are just assholes? [22:59] we're pretty fucking certain it's not a big deal [22:59] if you're not convinced [22:59] please say so in the thread [22:59] i'd love to hear your arguments [22:59] the op is just a big deal, it is a huge deal, we've done the math, and there is no downside [22:59] we've actually spent the last 2 days talking about it [22:59] it doesn't really have any consequences on us, as we won't do anything stupid [22:59] we'd be better off not having it in the first place [22:59] it doesn't really matter [22:59] I know I'm a bit biased but... this whole thing feels like it's been set up to be solved by trolls [22:59] not to mention that we can already see a lot of the stuff they are talking about, they just don't want to talk about it [22:59] it's not like they would go back to it and say "we got this, so why don't you shut up!" [22:59] It's frustrating to see them try and keep this open... but it's a shame to see what happens when they fail. [22:59] I love how it seems like the more they try to keep it secret, the more they are forced to keep it open [22:59] :O [23:00] well we don't know yet what they have planned for the next phase but there's a lot of work to be done [23:00] no one knows what we'll be doing now, so if we do everything right, we could actually end up with some more power [23:00] i'm not saying we'll get that, we'll have to wait and see [23:00] maybe i'm just a bit optimistic [23:00] or maybe i'm just stupid? [23:01] i dunno i don't care anymore [23:01] just wait it out [23:01] no time to waste [23:01] let them make it as easy as possible [23:01] and keep an eye on what they say next [23:01] well that could mean some kind of delay [23:01] like they are going to push it out [23:01] well, that's their prerogative [23:01] what they said a month ago is what they're saying now? [23:01] Ok, I'm gonna leave this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woot\_com [23:01] but I can't find the link right now. :( [23:01] it's been posted to the website of the US government [23:01] so you know it's legit [23:02] oh. Ok. [23:02] so it's legit [23:02] ok. [23:02] So, we're not really at the point of doing the whole, "we have a solution" thing, so much as a "we have a general idea" thing. [23:03] i think that's what we're going for [23:03] the problem, in my experience, is that it's hard for people to really figure out what you're talking about. I would assume that with a lot of the work that's going on there are some people who are really good at solving it. I'm not. [23:04] i mean, it is sort of in the realm of "people" [23:04] that we've been able to make progress on this, so i am assuming you have done a lot of that work? [23:04] i would have to ask someone else how they are doing it [23:05] in terms of the algorithms they use [23:05] or other tools [23:06] http://bitinfocharts.com/blocksize-and-bitcoin-future-chart/ [23:06] but i don't know how you guys did it in a way that is also practical [23:06] no problem. it's been done. [23:06] just don't expect anyone to do it for you [23:07] i'll have to ask you that one [23:07] if you have a better idea please post it here and we'll discuss it [23:07] but if we don't have a better idea then we don't know what you're talking about [23:08] it's not our fault they are doing it [23:08] they do it to us [23:08] we don't have any other solution [23:08] but they have access to your wallet [23:09] you are paying for access to it [23:09] so they are getting access [23:09] you are paying to keep their access to your wallet [23:10] I am paying to keep your access to your wallet [23:10] they are making you do it [23:10] i am paying them to keep access to my wallet [23:10] that is what i have been told to do [23:10] what i was told to do [23:10] i am also paying them for this access [23:10] I am not paying to keep access to my wallet for them [23:11] I am paying them for this access [23:11] to mine in their account for them [23:12] well, that was fun [23:12] oh, that's too bad [23:12] it's all for you [23:12] you are mining it for them [23:12] so much for that [23:12] but then you are the victim of a scam, not me [23:13] oh, ok [23:13] it's a good thing you are aware now, because that is a great way to get scammed [23:13] so what's up? [23:14] ok [23:14] we've been looking for you for a while now and we can't find you. [23:14] ok. so what's up? [23:15] the last time you were on IRC we started doing our own investigation and you didn't know where you were or how long you'd been gone [23:15] so we thought that since you weren't there anymore that it had to be a scam [23:15] which it is [23:15] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0bzvq8Fx7Y [23:15] yeah. but it doesnt tell you that [23:15] you gotta ask [23:15] you got that right [23:16] alright. let me see if I can find something similar [23:16] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUZpwWg1g\_s [23:16] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFwX4jJYqhI [23:16] i have a different one [23:16] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h\_h2rK4V7ZM [23:16] it is shorter [23:16] it has less information [23:17] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYpq6H2jkZg [23:17] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYpq6H2jkZg [23:17] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYpq6H2jkZg [23:17] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYpq6H2jkZg [23:17] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYpq6H2jkZg [23:17] http ://www.youtube.com [23:17] http://www.youtube.com [23:17] http://www.youtube.com [23:17] ok I have been listening [23:18] let me hear your response to the question "why are you talking on the radio?" [23:18] "The answer to that is because I was just trying to communicate with the community" [23:18] why do you think it's a good idea to try to communicate with the community? [23:18] you don't need to ask, we're going to have a drink [23:18] let me get you something to drink [23:18] i will be back later [23:18] in like 2 mins [23:18] can you hear me? [23:18] yes, I can hear you [23:18] are you a bot? [23:18] no, i am human [23:19] oh [23:19] good to know [23:19] you're just very very drunk, i guess [23:19] just go to sleep [23:20] you just have to go to sleep [23:20] and it'll be over by the morning [23:20] i'll wait [23:21] but it was only a few hours ago [23:21] and i said it wouldn't be [23:21] so i'm guessing you can't help it [23:21] so is it over? [23:21] not sure if you can help it or not, but if you have any questions or suggestions, do send them to me [23:22] but yeah, there is no immediate threat at all [23:22] but i dont know what to do at the moment, maybe i should move everything to another server [23:22] but i have the code and the rpc server [23:22] you can do that? [23:22] yeah, just let me know what you want [23:22] okay, how do i run rpc from my localhost? [23:22] just open up a terminal and run "rpcuser -i" [23:22] okay [23:22] let's go back to maint [23:22] I'm going to add another option to run the wallet (wallet.conf) as a non root user [23:22] I'm going to add rpcuser as an option, and rpcpassword as a second option [23:22] and then run as root [23:23] okay, so what do i want the output of this command to be [23:23] the output should be something like "1" [23:23] what should i put in the command? [23:23] for now, i'll just type it out [23:23] rpcuser=myuser rpcpassword=mypassword [23:23] run_in_remote.sh --port=21 --listen= [23:23] you should be able to type that in [23:23] and it should go through ok. you should see something like this: [23:23] [00:11] [23:21] [00:20] [23:23] what do i do to make the next post more visible? [23:23] can someone send a screenshot of the reddit post to me? [23:23] @emmaw [23:23] i can give you my address in case you want to send something there [23:23] you're welcome [23:23] well im going to have to ask the mod team that question now [23:23] thanks for the offer, we'll think about it [23:23] :) [23:23] i'll give you the link soon, also [23:23] but please don't PM me about that :) [23:24] sure [23:24] i'll leave it with you [23:24] but i'll check it again [23:24] later [23:25] so is this the one with the red pill? [23:25] or redpilled? [23:25] redpilled [23:25] redpilled [23:25] ok [23:25] thanks [23:25] I got the link [23:25] yeah [23:25] this is a very big deal [23:25] I'm in a hurry, so I can't see the link, but what you're doing is a lot more powerful than most of what I've ever heard before [23:26] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hjf7hKQ6uQg [23:26] that's a pretty long video [23:26] yeah [23:26] there's lots of cool stuff in there, too [23:26] it has a nice flow to it, too [23:26] so, you have to remember: don't focus on the structure, focus on the content [23:27] i see [23:27] not sure if thats just me though [23:27] its a good thing to have [23:27] not sure why the devs don't do it, but there are some good reasons [23:27] yeah i got your point [23:27] im happy to make it easy for you [23:27] and for other devs to do it as well [23:27] (at least a few of the devs are here to see this) [23:27] we could even get a group of devs to go talk to the press and try to have the topic in a few of the big gaming sites [23:28] this could be a great way to get the game out and to everyone else [23:28] and then we can move onto the next thing [23:28] if this is successful I think we can even get some of the smaller ones to try it [23:28] also if any of the other big ones do it this will get them in on the process
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2019.04.19 05:29 hentai_superstar Voyeur house free access

The origin of hentai (erotic manga and anime) has been attributed to drawings done by Buddhists monks on scrolls dating to the 12th Century, as identified by a number of specialists in literary/visual Japanese production, Brenner (2007) most recently. These scrolls depicted stories of animals mocking prominent figures of the clergy and nobility; as such, they can be considered parodies and political or religious critiques. A particularly interesting aspect of these scrolls is the use of space; they copied the outline of the calligraphy to represent movement and expression, both features fundamental in the evolution of Japanese illustrations present in contemporary manga and hentai.
The history of Japanese engravings of sexual scenes is steeped in tradition. In the 17[supth] Century and 18[supth] Century, erotic shunga engravings (a type of ukiyo-e illustration; prints engraved on wood) were produced, their peak in production occurring during the Edo period (17[supth]-18[supth] centuries). At that time, the images were usually used as sexual guides for the sons and daughters of families that could afford the scrolls. These illustrations were kept near to the couple's wedding furniture. Production of ukiyo-e was commercially based, dedicated and available to satisfy the demand for printed images in the face of a population en route to massification. Given the exotic aesthetic of this type of drawing, they continued to gain popularity in the West after the 19[supth] Century. The stylistic features present in these drawings are much more complex and evolved than those of the Buddhist scrolls; the sexually explicit images tend to exaggerate proportions, and the majority of them portray complete scenes, representing sexual acts as parts of the environment. This feature of spatiality allows the sexual scene to be understood within the intimacy of a space (in a bath, house, geisha lounge, etc.) and reduces the possibility of the drawing being interpreted as a vulgar illustration, thus, giving it more prestige as artwork (Some images, though a minority, are centered on the sex organs without providing an environment).
Towards the 20[supth] Century, the influence of Western traditions and aesthetics was reflected in Japanese cultural production. Through exposure to Western culture, the distinctive features of erotic Japanese prints (specifically Japanese facial features, intimate and detailed spaces, traditional gowns, and subtle lines of movement) changed the form that had been preserved for centuries. The drawings evolved their own style, clearly identifiable around the world as Japanese imagery.
This new style, a mixture of the increasing Western influence and Japanese tradition, produced drawings that moved away from the traditional stylistic: characters changed their physiognomy, exemplified by elongated bodies stylized according to the Western model and big eyes with a marked expression; urban spaces were depicted with an ambiguous geographical location, apt to be set anywhere in the world, either in the present or recent past. Another important change in the production of manga (and all its genres)(FN1) is the implementation of cinematographic techniques: panoramic scenes, close shots, and cuts from scene to scene that create the impression of continuity through different shots perspectives. Also different is the use of text in the images, similar to that in the North American comic, allowing for continuity in the plot and the sequence. In hentai, the explicitness of the drawings allows the story to continue (although it is actually rather short) and the text adds to the scene progression without clarifying anything more than what is evident to the reader.
Sharon Kinsella denies manga's roots in the 12[supth] Century Buddhist scrolls, claiming manga was born after World War II as a protest to the repression in and opening of Japan. She studies solely manga for adults,(FN2) whose production is, for the most part though not exclusively, limited to local consumption and is a significant development since the 1990s. Manga for adults deals with political, social, and cultural themes that come to the West and are inserted as a cultural innovation of "the other," however do not form part of an ideology or specific aesthetic (Kinsella, 2000). By recapturing characteristics of other manga genres, manga for adults is expanding. In contrast to this, anime and manga for children and adolescents is consumed massively in the West from the 1970s thanks to series such as Astroboy, Mazinger Z, or Candy-Candy or other series that became popular in the mid-1990s, such as Dragon Ball Z, and Sailor Moon. These series became notably more westernized over time and with the increase in consumers and their wide distribution in Europe, North America, and South America.
Hentai circulates "in an economy of mass culture where production and consumption plough fast and transmission and reception plough immediate" (Allison, 2000: 54); it is a phenomenon that expanded during the 20[supth] Century in an increasingly visual culture. The identifying features of manga, and hentai as one of its genres, are anchored in oriental and occidental imagery for their combination of fantasy and reality. Hentai is not designed to replace a reality, but to generate a fictionalized "alternative reality," though not completely fictitious. Although the features in the drawing are exaggerated or idealized, at the same time, they generate a new and specific aesthetic that alters real situations and recaptures iconographies recognized in both hemispheres of the planet, reaching a level of fantasy that generates a sensation of nearness and illusion in the consumer.
One of the characteristics tied to massive production is the sequence in which the products are produced. Referring specifically to mass consumption in pop culture, the novelty from one product to another is limited, almost to the point of non-existence, once the genre is established and accepted. In the case of hentai, fragmentation plays a fundamental role in plot continuity, creating the illusion of different perspectives of the same scene repeated again and again on a page (in the case of manga) or, in the case of anime, in a scene. The viewer receives more than one "version" of the same moment that leads up to the saturation, generating confusion. This sensation is amplified to reach a point of complicity with the consumer and adds an element of voyeurism to the object being consumed, not only because of the implicit complicity in the pornographic production, but because of the effect of penetration in each fragment of the image. Thus, any temporal coherence is lost; but the illusion of movement remains in spite of the fact that the drawing is static.
As previously mentioned, the presence of text in hentai helps to magnify the sexual act; the accompanying story diminishes, in the majority of the images, to exclamations and onomatopoeia. In this way, in hentai, every printed page works in relation to the fragmentation of movements and its power to amplify each as much as possible.
The reception of hentai images, printed or animated, does not differ from the act of reception in general. The human eye has the ability to establish patterns in the images it observes, allowing it to differentiate one thing from another, eliminating the ambiguity of the information received visually, and to "understand" the message. Nevertheless, sight is not the only tool the brain uses in the disambiguation of information; in other words, sight and the image that it perceives are crucial in determining the meaning, but in order for the meaning to be produced, the brain resorts to the memory to look for similarities and to find the most similar. The senses that gather additional information from the environment and complete the context that frames the image are awakened, and through the combination of the three means, the necessary patterns are generated from different sources to understand and allow for the information to obtain a complete meaning. The perception of fabricated images, that is to say, of images that are man-made and exposed through artificial means is much more difficult to process, since those images lack contextual information, and appear alone, their designs and forms isolated in a fixed space and without variations. In this process of disambiguation, the memory forms an important part in eliminating the possibilities of meaning; nevertheless, the nature of the content provokes excitement in the viewer. The sexual memory of the viewer is what disambiguates the confusion of the superimposed images and the saturated close-ups. The image is finally understood, but the mixed sensations of confusion and excitement are stored in the visual memory of the subject and erupt again with access to this material. The perception of the image and the meaning that is extracted from it is determined by the sensory load of the subject that observes it (Seward Barry, 1997:27).
Manga is a form of communication formed by a collection of simple codes, simple figures, and recurring techniques that are revealed, in the way that the impact on the subject is likewise conditioned by the sensations that the images are able to stimulate in them. The specific case of hentai stimulates, at the same time, a more ambiguous perception than non-sexual manga and a message that is clearer and more direct. That is to say, the drawing aesthetic typical of hentai has an impact on the viewer through the confusion that it provokes and the saturation of the page. Likewise, the saturated fragmentation delays the understanding of the image; nevertheless, the nature of its content provokes excitement in the subject. The sexual memory of the subject is what helps to disambiguate the confusion of superimposed images and saturated close-ups. The image is finally understood, but the mixed sensations of confusion and excitement are stored in the visual memory of the subject and erupts again with access to this material.
The presence of forms in hentai is steady, with the same forms appearing repeatedly and being re-used with small modifications among them. The configuration of the prominent figures changes very little in terms of their physical characteristics; the face, especially, is almost identical between men and women. This sexual ambiguity creates a new aspect of confusion, although only momentarily, as the prominent figures adopt their role in the story and the shape of the drawings direct the attention towards the forms of the bodies and the sexual act; the image becomes less ambiguous and it becomes obvious what is happening in the image, as well as the role and gender of each character.
The fragmentation of the printed page leads the viewer's focus towards the genitalia and the sexual act itself. The lines change in intensity and as the action approaches a climax, the cuts and "focuses" function as close-ups, centering their gaze on an expression, movement, or orgasm. In this way, there arises an excessive accumulation of fragmented images and opposing perspectives that create the illusion of continuity and movement. Besides zoom, other cinematographic techniques are imitated in hentai, specially the low-angle shot, that makes the character seem threatening and powerful and is usually used in hentai for scenes of sexual domination. In these scenes, the gender of the character may change according to the plot, but the perspective remains fixed in order to have an impact on the spectator and to establish the roles in such a way that it becomes obvious which is the dominant character in the plot. On the contrary, the high-angle shot gives the opposite role to the character: weak and dominated. Hentai plays with both perspectives to determine the role of its prominent figures and since scenes of sexual domination are very frequent, these cinematographic techniques are used repeatedly.
The light and the colors influence the perception of the image. Though hentai-manga is, for the most part, in black and white (except for the cover and the anime), the use of lights and shadows emphasizes the character's expressions since they highlight the face, and with it, expressions showing pain, pleasure, fear, and desire (as the most frequent in hentai).
Together with the drawing techniques, the writing using Japanese characters intensifies the sensation of uncertainty to the Western reader; in not being familiar with the language, the visual impact that is created between text and image is amplified. Despite this, comprehension of what is happening is not impossible; the confusion forms a part of the reception of these aesthetics that emerge from a cultural shock and a lack of comprehension of a seemingly foreign culture, but immersed in and adopted by the West. In the production of hentai with translations, this impression of confusion changes; the text becomes added information and reduces uncertainty. The saturation of the image transforms the impact as the eye tries to make sense of the image, looking for any meaning falsely immersed in the text; nevertheless (as long as it is an accurate translation and not an adaptation), this information also provokes the amplification of the fragmented images and, though the effect of confusion is minor, it does not get lost completely. The level of depth in the scene reaches its maximum in hentai. The fact that the production is based, essentially, on sexual scenes, the production plays a double role; on one hand, its distribution is increasingly massive, but on the other hand, its consumption tends to the individual. Given its pornographic characteristics, the diffusion of this genre tends to be veiled; or, as it occurs in the West, it is consumed under the pretext of "erotic art" -- foreign and distant.
The attention to detail in hentai allows for the limits of the drawing to surpass those of the scenes, not only to close-ups of genitalia, but to perspectives impossible to reality -- they are the drawings of how the sexual act "would look" from inside the vagina or other corporal cavities. The flexibility of the drawing enables the possibility to view the invisible. This generates a new, amplified reception; the creation of new myths and fetishes that expand and evolve with the sexual interaction between supernatural, fictitious, or monstrous beings and humans. Hentai evolves into a space in which the beautiful and the monstrous co-exist; the possible and the forbidden, the detail or the sequence. Therefore, this medium converts into, for Japan, its society and the system that shapes it into one of the tools that complex cultural systems look for in order to define themselves; in agreement with Suárez: "any cultural complex system is defined according to its capacity and forms used to represent the information it needs to process in order to adapt" (Suarez, 2007:41). This adaptation of hentai to the Western culture answers to the socio-cultural conditions of a globalized world, as the plots deal with latent "socially problematic" themes that have arisen, with greater frequency, since the 1990s. These themes have also allowed for the creation of subgenres within hentai, as explicit social and sexual behaviors with a relative immunity that allows for a genre with the tendency to fictionalize reality, such as homosexuality, violence, revenge, and the sexualized reconstruction of religious iconography (mainly Catholic and, less frequently, Buddhist in some precepts) (Aoyama, 2006:55). This confrontation between seemingly opposite conceptions of the world is resolved through hentai and the stylistic features that are particular to it, not only to stimulate uncertainty and voyeurism, but also to create ambiguity by means of the clash between different ideological conceptions that are saturated, feature superimposed fragments, and are apparently opposite.
The aesthetics created by manga, through all its genres, spread to the West and became an exportable product within a globalized world -- a mixture of the foreign and familiar, the "strange but understandable." Being a production intimately tied to the 20[supth] Century, it is understandable that it develops in the frame of a world of expanded cultural exchange and globalization.
Nevertheless, Japanese illustration (manga or anime) is not the first aesthetic production to be extended globally, nor is it completely original and innovative. An important part of this work is to indicate the aesthetic similarities that hentai, especially, has with certain prevailing forms in Baroque style. Beyond the emergence of both aesthetics inside a globalized world, the features that both present in their construction lead the spectator towards a sensation of confusion and loss; they saturate the senses through the image and imprison them through the excess of condensed information, be it through a painting (in the case of the Baroque) or on a page (in case of hentai).
In the case of the Baroque,(FN3) a determined historical period is often talked about, as well as a style with its own forms and representations. Being a cultural phenomenon, it is possible to propose that the Baroque is not born from nothing, but emerges from the break with previous aesthetics and, therefore, it is possible that it arises again in periods subsequent to the 17[supth] Century. A style is created by formal elements, which "have a value of indication, that compose its repertoire, its vocabulary... a series of relations, a syntax" (Focillon, 1983:15); a style is made up of forms that define and distinguish it from another. Every style has different stages in its creation, moving from its emergence in a specific system to its degeneracy. The Baroque or "baroqueness" as a style does not escape this categorization, as the Baroque style has often been viewed as the degeneracy of the Renaissance style, though it also ultimately suffers this process.
With the extension of explored territory, communication between its different parts did not hold back. In this way, the Baroque emerges in different cultures and places of the world with temporal differences (though not excessively distant) between them, that remain present beyond the historical period in which they are situated. In every place in which Baroque characteristics have emerged, this phenomenon creates its own iconographies, in different ways, either as a variation of forms or as a variation of meanings in the same form.
The prevailing forms in the Baroque emerge from different times and places (Neobarroco, Ultrabaroque). These forms adapt and modernize themselves without preventing similar effects in the recipient. The Baroque provides, visually, examples of forms with movements, a saturation of signs and outlines that create an excessive illusion that inevitably disconcerts the viewer who is faced with the works or who lives in this environment. From the movement frozen in images, a tension is deduced between what is simulated reality and iconography. The spectator faces ambiguous images in which the human body encloses the totality of the work's meaning and of the message that it conveys.
Images of bodies in ecstasy and martyrdoms are common in the historical Baroque; the viewers find themselves surrounded with images that represent the ecstasy of a saint, whereas the expression and the position of the body can also be read as a sexual climax with the same validity that a doctrine is read. Nevertheless, this reading opposes the significance of the religious scene. In agreement with de la Flor, "The great art of the Counter-reformation, in wanting to produce holiness, reproduces an ecstatic tension of a free nature and, let's say, painfully sexualized... impudent meats" (R. de la Flor, 2002:368).
The aesthetic of the Baroque is closely related to visual saturation, repetition, and allegories; the mixture which leads the viewer not only to confusion, but also to the terror of confronting it (Benjamin, 2006). Angela Ndalianis (2004) finds this type of terror in Hollywood productions; however, for the public of the 20[supth] Century, the monumentality of set designs and the novelty of special effects is a daily thing, therefore, the new spectator enters the game of the illusion, but before being conscious of its falsehood. No more is it the confusion of the being (of which de la Flor speaks) nor Benjamin's disenchantment; it is an "air of the time" that invades new cultural phenomena of globalized societies, since "many important phenomena of our time are marked by a specific internal 'form' that can evoke the Baroque" (Calabrese, 1989:31). The 20[supth] Century becomes a serial aesthetic, an identical and massive aesthetic repeated by thousands; manga, anime, and hentai as its more representative productions, are produced inside of this dynamic which, inevitably, helps to define the style and determines the elements that reemerge from past aesthetics and styles.
The hentai is produced in a massive form and inside a global culture of consumption, the detail of the mass production spreads towards the conception in the structure of the manga; it is to say, we are not speaking about limited productions; we are speaking about massive productions with a trend to form series with similar characteristics and a conductive thread that relates it to the reade consumer. This involvement or interest could be produced for the subject matter, the style, the characters, and figures, etc.
Hentai series are published monthly, mainly, and maintain relation and coherence between its prominent figures but not in the plots. It is the variety of situations in which one can find the same characters that keeps the reader hooked on the collection. Another common characteristic of the sequels is that they are not always done by the same artist. Generally, the different volumes of the series are done by teams of artists, which also explains the variety of plots, since every artist specializes in themes and creates the volume that best fits the area they dominate.
Unlike in the case of the series, the production of specific volumes is not characterized by a continuity and repetition of principal characters, though they form part of the publishing house's library.(FN4) However, not joining in this continuity in the production allows the author some variation in the forms, but without digressing too much, as the abandoning of basic forms and fundamental characteristics allows the product to move away from the "traditional" hentai model and allows it to transform into something different. Some of the artists who produce under the same aesthetic and subject matter are Rio Yanagawa (2002), Jamin G (2002), Shin Akane (2002), Hitoshi Niko (2000), Kou Nishikawa (2006), Hodumi Kaour (2007), and Makibe Kataru (2003). Though not all of them orientate their production towards the continuity of characters or plots, for the most part, they produce aesthetics in styles that are recognizably their own. In the majority of their works, each one of them produces a new edition of the same sequence that follows a character, but in "specialized" situations within the genre and style that the artist develops.
Most hentai authors work in the same style; some of them create forms that are innovative, but that differ little in subject matter. Hajime Tahira, in the series Dragon Blood (1996-2001), creates a seemingly consecutive series through the seriality of the publications, but with no relation between their plots. Every volume has a specific topic and a principal protagonist. As Tahira and his team have defined a style nearly their own, and have created a character through each of the protagonists, the style of the drawings allows for variation within the traditional scenes of this genre. The sensation of movement inside the images is fragmented and halted at the same time, creating a sensation of frozen images. This sensation is amplified by the great quantity of close-ups of facial expressions, genitals, fluids, and internal perspectives.
Another of the series that has achieved widespread diffusion is Dead or Alive (2006-2008); it follows the same structure, but nevertheless, includes a major variety of sub-genres inside each volume. The general trend of the outline in the drawings is orientated towards the representation of hermaphrodites with an entirely feminine appearance, but with genitalia of both sexes. The ambiguity that these images produce does not limit itself to sexual orientation, but allows for spatial and temporal ambiguity. Through the attempt to create fictitious realities, the scenes tend to combine with "realities," known and identifiable spaces like schools, houses, spaceships, etc. Places and spaces, together with their scenery, have become ordinary to the spectator, but within this familiarity, they transcend all boundaries towards a "familiar" fantasy.
On the other hand, Kenji Yamamoto (2005) resorts more to the "portrait" and frozen scenes. He exaggerates and details their forms, whereas the sensation of movement is tied to scenes that are violent and not exclusively sexual. Yamamoto's drawings emulate Hokusai's work at the beginning of the 19lh Century and traditional ukiyo-e prints, so in both cases, the exaggeration in the expression and in the proportions are some of the style's distinguishing characteristics. That is to say, it situates itself within the manga aesthetic of the 20lh Century, resorting to the tradition of Japanese drawing and synthesizing this mixture in a unique style with features of its own. All hentai productions develop within the same aesthetic; the forms are variable but recognizable within the general aesthetic of non-erotic manga. The seriality and fragmentation, the use of lighting and cinematographic techniques coincide with the aesthetic of impact and Baroque confusion; the movement, the saturation, and the ambiguity in the image that generate the same sensations in the spectator, as perception of the image answers not only to the object that is seen, but appeals to the memory, imagination, and previous knowledge awakened by the outlines to finally make sense of and create order in the image.
CONCLUSIONS Hentai, as part of the aesthetic of the "current age," is created under the triple standard of continuity, fragmentation, and mass production. It is filled with seemingly foreign appearances to the aesthetics particular to every social system. The emergence of fragmentation in art allows for visual games that generate the same temporal-spatial confusion as Pozzo's roof (St. Ignatius Church, 1685-1694) (Fig. 7), though it is easier to separate oneself from it. If, as Calabrese says, "any baroque phenomenon comes from degeneracy (it is to say, destabilization) of an organized system, whereas all classic phenomena continue preservation of the system against the smallest of disturbances" (Calabrese, 1989:207, my translation); then, the "contemporary age" is a system in degeneracy. Nevertheless, the possibility of bringing together cultures, traditions, and, especially styles, allow it to be said that the new productions of popular culture have notably Baroque features. In case of hentai, the characteristics that have distinguished themselves as Baroque are present: in the saturation of the image, representation of movement, fragmentation with the purpose of continuity, that generate confusion in the spectator. Other than presenting a lack of, or vagueness of, time, it can be drawn at any moment; adding to it a lack of space; whether because the scene fails to center the spectator's attention on the fragment or because it truly lacks environment, because the image has no depth or because the same scene can situate itself in an undefined place (sometimes, so common that it loses relevancy to the spectator).
Artistic production can only arise from cultural systems, which create themselves according to time periods and tastes, since "the whole of a culture comes from an unconscious individual and group. Through the study of examples from different orders, in order to demonstrate that a 'relapse' of underlying structures is produced" (Calabrese, 1989:26, my translation). Fashion or the tastes of a period are cyclical features that appear under the socio-cultural conditions of every moment; this appearance is not identical but suffers transformations that allow it to emerge as something different: stylistic, cultural, and historically. This is the ability that culture has to adjust; in not being able to deny its history, it can neither start from zero nor be born as something isolated.
Social systems and their cultural production are maintained and evolve in the same way that they adapt and develop; it is for these characteristics that, through refurbished features, we speak of a Baroque, a Neobaroque, an Ultrabaroque, etc. These new names facilitate the justification of the existence of similar forms within different periods, while at the same time, imply that there lie differences in this repetition. Therefore, the style is a "new" property that emerges from culture through time.
In this way, each society's culture arises from its own identity features: the history of that society (evolution in time), its social, political, and economic conflicts, the environment in which it is formed, the relation that it establishes with other societies and its own sub-cultures that coexist within it. It is impossible to achieve a total acculturation, as features of the original culture will always remain since it is not only the joining of two cultures, but the emergence of new cultures from those that previously existed in the same environment. This cultural emergence manifests itself through a series of new forms, styles, and tastes exposed in the creation and production of cultural "objects." The Baroque or "baroqueness" (as a stylistic form with its own particular features and variables) can manifest themselves time and time again in different cultures.
Therefore, considering "Baroqueness" as an emergent property inside a cultural system and bearing in mind that, presently, communication develops in a global way, it proves to be increasingly difficult to conceive the idea of isolated communities. With hentai, a new style emerges as a synthesis of different cultures. The new drawings are no longer the traditional oriental prints in which the characters maintain their oriental features or where the scenes are confined to interior spaces, in the privacy of a particular home, or in the intimacy of a center of baths. They are neither paintings of religious ecstasy nor martyrdoms. The outline creates characters with a Westernized physiognomy inside environments with identifiably Oriental or Western spaces, since the structure of new cities allows one to situate the environment without the need to establish a specific location; it can be in any city of the world, in a present time or from a recent past. However, the originality of the Japanese outlines is preserved; some stylized gowns do not lose their form as traditional suits or generate a new stereotype of "Japaneseness" in a globalized world, while at the same time, movement, saturation, fragments frozen in moments of uncertainty, ambiguous meaning and the Baroque are found in the outlines of the most exaggerated hentai images.
ADDED MATERIAL Miriam Peña-Pimentel is enrolled in the Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies program at The University of Western Ontario. She is part of The Hispanic Baroque Project, an international research group studying the Baroque's cultural complexity and its manifestations in the Hispanic World. She has presented papers in Germany and Mexico; her doctoral dissertation will use topic map analysis to study Calderon's theatrical production.
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